Independent Mental Health Advocacy

Self-help tool

We help you understand your rights and options when you are receiving compulsory mental health treatment.

I want to feel safe while I am receiving treatment

This information discusses your rights and options if you are feeling unsafe while on a compulsory treatment order.

If you are in an emergency call 000.

  • People have different things they need to feel safe. These can include:

    • Physical safety
    • Emotional safety
    • Cultural safety
    • Sexual safety
    • Spiritual safety
    • Financial safety
  • Think about why you feel unsafe. This can help if you are communicating your concerns to others, or trying to come up with solutions. Some common reasons people feel unsafe are:

    • behaviour – someone else’s behaviour or how they are talking to you
    • treatment – you are receiving compulsory mental health treatment, or that your treatment concerns are not being addressed
    • environment – the environment feels unsafe or not a nice place to be in

    Are there other reasons? You can write them down if that helps.

Your rights

Even if you are on a treatment order, you have the right to be safe.

  • You have the right to liberty and security. For example, the mental health service can only keep you in a hospital against your will by following the law. To learn more about this, read what the law says about compulsory treatment orders.

  • You have the right to have your individual needs (including culture, language, communication, age, disability, religion, gender, sexuality or other matters) and characteristics (including Aboriginal culture and identity) respected. The law makes specific mention that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have their distinct culture and identity recognized and responded to.

    The mental health service should provide you with an interpreter, or Aboriginal health worker if needed.

  • You have the right to be assessed and treated in the least restrictive way possible. For example, when making a decision about treatments, the psychiatrist must consider your views and preferences about the treatment and the reasons you hold those views. These reasons can be the impacts the medication have on your health, wellbeing and ability to work.

Your options

Once you know your rights and what is causing you to feel unsafe, you can choose options to find a solution.

  • Speak to someone, such as a family member, nominated support person, friend or advocate. They may be able to support you to find solutions.

  • If you are in a mental health service, you can talk to a staff member about what you need in order to feel safe.

  • You can ask for an IMHA advocate to support you by calling 1300 947 820 between 9:30am - 4:30pm seven days a week.

  • There are services that might be able to help and give you options. Some examples are:

My Choices

Now that you have thought about options to help you feel safe, choose the ones you would like to try. These will be added to your plan, that you can print out or download.

Generate your plan

Reviewed 21 December 2023