Know your rights

Know your rights

The Mental Health Act 2014 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.

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. 

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 person, a guardian, a carer, 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 Tribunal, the Chief PsychiatristMental Health Complaints Commissioner or a community visitor 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 Health Complaints Commissioner.

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.