Some of your concerns about mental health treatment can relate to your treating team. It is important to know that you have rights about how you want to be treated and to request a change to treating team.
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Who is my treating team?
Many people call the following mental health staff the “treating team”:
- social workers
- occupational therapists
- peer workers
- key clinicians
- case managers.
Why would I want to change my treating team?
Many people have supportive relationships with their treating team. However, some people consider making changes because of:
- gender – you may prefer or feel more comfortable with someone from a specific gender
- communication and personality – you may have communication or personality issues with a staff member that you have not been able to resolve
- therapeutic relationship – you may have had negative experiences with a staff member, and may have a better therapeutic relationship with another staff member
- clinical opinion – you may disagree with a staff member’s “clinical opinion”, or decisions they have made about your treatment
- your rights – you may decide that a staff member is not respecting your rights and that this will not change.
Do I have the right to change my treating team?
The law states that you have the right to make or participate in decisions about your treatment, as well as have your views and preferences considered. Your individual needs, such as your culture, language, communication, age, disability, religion as well as sexuality, should be respected and responded to.
The law makes specific mention that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have their distinct identity and culture respected and responded to which may be achieved through support from an Aboriginal Hospital Liaison worker.
Therefore, you may request a change of staff for these reasons.
However, you should be aware that the service’s response may be influenced by the staff and resources available.
How do I change my treating team?
You can ask any staff member or ask to speak to the manager of the service. Some tips for that conversation are:
- make a plan – make sure you plan what you want to say, and what you want to ask. Write them down if that helps
- know your rights – you may want to read more about your rights under the law. You can also ask a staff member for the service’s policy on changing your treating team.
What if they don’t change my treating team?
Sometimes your first try is not successful. If that happens, you can:
- ask for a review – ask for a review of the decision about changing the staff member
- talk to the staff member – if you do not have the choice to change the staff member, you may want to meet with them to discuss your concerns and expectations again. You may bring a support person to help you with this meeting
- get a second opinion – the (phone ) offers a free independent review of whether you should be under the law or whether your treatment needs to change. You may find a private psychiatrist to assist by contacting the (phone )
- make a complaint – you can make a written or oral complaint to the mental health service or to the (phone ). See for more information.
Download this fact sheet
This fact sheet is available in IMHA design or First Nations design.
Reviewed 25 August 2023