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 more say in my treatment

This information discusses your rights and options ,so you can have more say in your treatment decisions.

    Your rights

    Under the Act, you have rights. Mental health services also have responsibilities.

    • If you have capacity, anyone wanting to give you treatment must first get your 'informed consent' before giving you that treatment. This means the treating team must:

      • Give you enough information about your treatment options. This means the different treatments available to you, as well as their pro’s and con’s.
      • Answer your questions about treatments. For example, you may want to know whether some medications will impact how long you stay in hospital.
      • explain the rights that are relevant to your situation
      • give you time to make decisions about what you want.
    • The treating team must support you to make or participate in decisions about your assessment, treatment and recovery. This means that they must:

      • Give you the information you need to make your own decisions. For example, what the purpose of a proposed medication is, what the treating team believe it will do, and any likely side-effects.
      • Help you find treatment options that are most aligned with your values, rights and what you want. For example, help you find treatment options that let you work or have an active social life.
      • Ensure that your treatment is responsive to your individual needs, such as your culture, language, communication, age, disability, religion, gender & sexuality. For example, you may prefer medications that do not negatively impact your sexual health.
    • You have the right to a second psychiatric opinion. A second psychiatric opinion means that another psychiatrist will assess two things:

      1. whether you meet the criteria for compulsory treatment
      2. whether your treatment needs to change.
    • An advance statement of preferences is a legal document that communicates what treatment you want if you want if you are placed on an order. Although the psychiatrist can override it, they must consider it when making decisions, and they must provide you with written reasons for why they didn’t follow your advance statement of preferences if you request.

      Learn more about advance statements by watching our video guide.

    Your Options

    • You can request a meeting to discuss your treatment concerns. In that meeting you can ask for more information or make a request for changes to your treatment.

      What types of changes do people ask for ?

      • How to receive medication: some prefer medication by tablets (orally), while others prefer it by injection (depot)
      • Where to receive treatment: in the hospital, in the community, or perhaps with a private clinician or psychiatrist
      • No medication: you may request for a reduction or a change to no medication. You can ask for a specific plan and support to get off medication
      • Changes to medication: you might prefer a medication that has fewer side-effects.
    • You can make an advance statement of preferences at any time. You can find out more by reading our advance statement guide and templates here.

    • You can make a complaint and argue that you should have more say over your treatment. You can learn more about this by using the I want to make a complaint option in this web app.

    • You can ask for a second psychiatric opinion to review your treatment. If you have an advance statement of preferences, you can give this to the psychiatrist. You can ask the second psychiatric opinion to discuss treatment options in the review.

      Three common ways to get a second opinion are:

      • Second Psychiatric Opinion Service (1300 503 426) – you can ask for a free and independent second psychiatric opinion or visit their websiteExternal Link
      • Internal second opinion – you can ask another psychiatrist at the mental health service to agree to meet with you
      • Private psychiatrist – if you know a private psychiatrist, you can contact them. You may want to ask if they can bulk bill you, or you may need to pay yourself. The Your Health in MindExternal Link website can help you find a psychiatrist.
    • If you have a nominated support person, you can contact them to help you with your concerns.

      You can contact an advocate to discuss your self-advocacy or ask the advocate to talk to your treating team directly. You can call us on 1300 947 820, email us on or use our contact box.

    My Choices

    Now that you have read about your options, 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 25 August 2023