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 leave from hospital

Under the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 a public mental health hospital can keep you in hospital for treatment, even if you don’t want it. However you have the right to request for leave of absence. Leave of absence, or leave, is where the psychiatrist gives you temporary time outside hospital.

This information discusses your rights and options when you are requesting leave.

    Your rights

    • You have the right to the least restrictive assessment and treatment possible. For you, being granted leave of absence is the least restrictive way that you can be assessed and treated while you are on a compulsory treatment order.

    • You have the right to support so that you can make your own decisions, even where these involve a degree of risk. For example, you can request that the psychiatrist supports you to make a plan for leave by discussing the reasons you need leave, incorporating the views of your nominated person, and encouraging you to have supports such as an independent advocate.

    • In making decisions about leave, your psychiatrist must consider your reasons for wanting leave. For example, the psychiatrist must respond to any concerns you have about being in the hospital, or about things that you would like addressed outside the hospital.

      You can read more about leave and the obligations on psychiatrists by going to the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist guideline on Leave.External Link

    Your options

    Once you know your rights about leave, you can choose which option works for you.

    • You can request leave to anyone, but it is the psychiatrist who makes the decision. Therefore, you can request leave from the psychiatrist. When making a request, it can help to explain your rights and the reasons why you want leave.

    • If your leave request has been rejected, you can request another psychiatrist to review the decision. You can request to talk to that psychiatrist to explain your reasons.

    • You can make a complaint to the mental health service or to the Mental Health and Wellbeing CommissionExternal Link (MHWC). You can contact the MHWC on the phone (1800 246 054) or in writing ( / Level 26, 570 Bourke St Melbourne).

    • If you believe that service has not followed the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist guidelines, you can call their office (03 9096 7571) and request a clinical advisor to discuss this with you and the service.

    • Sometimes you want leave to address things outside the hospital, such as getting belongings at home or feeding a pet. If you are not granted leave you can request the treating team to address those things outside the hospital.

    My Choices

    Now that you have read about your options when making a complaint, please choose the ones you want to try. These will be put into your plan that you can print out or download.

    Generate your plan

    Reviewed 27 August 2023