Independent Mental Health Advocacy

Know your rights

If you are receiving compulsory mental health treatment you have the right to be involved in all decisions about your assessment, treatment and recovery.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 sets out your rights if you are receiving mental health services.

Even if you are receiving compulsory treatment, the Act says you have the right to be involved in all decisions about your assessment, treatment and recovery. You should also be supported in making or participating in those decisions. Your views and preferences should be respected.

Watch our video – know your rights

Watch our video – know your rights (Auslan)

Learn more about how IMHA can help and how to contact usExternal Link in Auslan.

Your statement of rights

You must be given a copy of your order as well as a 'statement of rights'. This statement explains your rights under the Act and the process for you to be assessed and treated. When you are given the statement, the psychiatrist must also make sure that someone:

  • verbally explains the statement in a way that you understand
  • answers any questions you may have as clearly as possible.

If you do not understand the information in the statement, they must make further attempts to explain it at another time. You can also ask a staff member, support person or advocate to explain your rights.

For a written copy of this information, please see our Know Your Rights fact sheet.

For more information, please see Department of Health webpage on statement of rightsExternal Link .

Your right to communicate freely

You have a right to communicate lawfully if you are being held for compulsory treatment.

Communication is being able to:

  • send or receive letters
  • make or receive telephone calls
  • communicate via electronic means
  • receive visitors at a mental health facility at reasonable times.

You should be allowed to communicate privately and without censorship.

An authorised psychiatrist can restrict your right to communicate if necessary to protect your health, safety and wellbeing or that of another person.

An authorised psychiatrist who restricts your right to communicate must take reasonable steps to inform you, your nominated support person, a guardian, a carer, a kin, or a parent if you are under the age of 16 of the restriction and the reason for it.

However, an authorised psychiatrist can't stop you from communicating with a lawyer, an IMHA advocate, the Mental Health TribunalExternal Link , the Chief PsychiatristExternal Link , Mental HealthExternal Link and Wellbeing CommissionExternal Link or a community visitorExternal Link from the Office of the Public Advocate.

If you are concerned that your communication is being unreasonably restricted, including your ability to speak to one of our advocates, contact the Mental HealthExternal Link and Wellbeing CommissionExternal Link .

How an advocate can support you

You may want help to understand and act on your rights in the mental health system.

If you are receiving compulsory treatment our independent advocates can:

  • listen to what you want and talk to you about your options
  • give you information and support to act on your rights
  • work with you so you can have your say
  • refer you to other services as requested.

Find out more about how we can support you.

We do not provide legal representation or specific advice about how the law applies in your particular situation. If you require legal help, ask your advocate to put you in touch with Victoria Legal Aid.

Download the Know Your Rights fact sheet

The Know Your Rights fact sheet is available in IMHA design or First Nations design.

Reviewed 12 April 2024