Independent Mental Health Advocacy

Receiving compulsory mental health treatment can be lonely and distressing. It is important to know that you have rights to be involved in the decisions about your treatment.

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Do I have a say in decisions about my treatment?

Yes. The Act states that you should be supported to make or participate in decisions about your assessment, treatment and recovery. More specifically, it says your treating team must:

  • seek informed consent – seek your informed consent for all treatments where you have been assessed to have capacity
  • provide information – provide you with information about the proposed treatment and other treatments
  • support decisions that involve risk – support you to make decisions about your treatment, even where these involve a degree of risk. This recognizes that risks are a normal part of everyday life, and that you should be supported to make positive and thought-out risks.

What is capacity?

A person has capacity to give informed consent to treatment or medical treatment if they can:

  • understand the information that is given to them about the treatment
  • remember the information relevant to the decision
  • can use or weigh the information relevant to the decision
  • can communicate the decision.

I have concerns about my treatment – what should I do?

Here are some options:

  • Ask for information – you can ask staff for information and an explanation of your current treatment as well as alternative treatments
  • Pros and cons – you can write a list of pros and cons for the different treatments, including any side-effects that you experience. You can ask a staff member to help you write these down
  • Ask a peer or peer support worker – other people who have used mental health services could tell you about their experiences. But it is important to know that this is your decision
  • Ask for a meeting – you can ask for a meeting with your psychiatrist to discuss your concerns.

I have a meeting soon about my treatment – any tips?

Some things that other advocates and consumers have suggested are:

  • Make a plan – make sure you plan what you want to say, and what you want to ask. You may write them down using our Know your rights: Self-advocacy plan
  • Know your rights – the Act gives you a range of rights. These include appealing your order, asking for a second psychiatric opinion, and making an advance statement of preferences. For further information, read our other Know your rights fact sheets, talk to an advocate, or call 1800 959 353 to hear a free recording of your rights
  • Ask questions – sometimes you need information on your treatment options or rights before you can make a decision. Therefore, it’s important to think about the questions you have for the treating team. You may write them down. It’s fine to expect answers to your questions
  • Bring a support person – you may want to bring a family member, friend, peer, staff member or advocate to support you at the meeting.

What if the treating team disagree or I am not happy with their response?

Sometimes you don’t get the outcome that you were hoping for at first. If so, you may consider:

  • Second Psychiatric Opinion – you can contact the Second Psychiatric Opinion Service (1300 503 426), ask for an internal second opinion, or use a private psychiatrist to assess whether you should be under the Act, and whether your treatment needs to change
  • Make a complaint – you can make a written or oral complaint to the mental health service, or to the Mental Health and Wellbeing CommissionExternal Link (phone 1800 246 054). See I want to make a complaint about my mental health service for more information.
  • Change your treating team – you may ask the manager to change your psychiatrist or treating team. Our Know your rights: I want to change my treating team fact sheet has more information.

Download this fact sheet

This fact sheet is available in IMHA design or First Nations design.

Get help from IMHA

If you are on a compulsory treatment order, our advocates can support you to have your say about your assessment, treatment and recovery. Learn how to get help from IMHA.

Reviewed 25 August 2023


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