Who is Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)?

Title: Who is Independent Mental Health Advocacy?

Producer: Independent Mental Health Advocacy

Name of speaker: Muskaan Ahuja and Ellisa Scott (all speech content)

Speech Content:

Independent Mental Health Advocacy, or IMHA, can help you to know your rights and have your say. IMHA is a free and independent advocacy service for people who are receiving compulsory treatment or are worried about receiving compulsory treatment. Receiving compulsory treatment means you will be given treatment even if you don't want it. If you are receiving compulsory treatment, there are rules about how this works.

Rights are rules that are meant to protect you under the law. One of your rights is to be contacted by IMHA. From 1st of September 2023, the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act states that IMHA will be notified when you are receiving compulsory treatment, and we will contact you unless you have told us not to. Let's talk about what this looks like.

We will contact you if you are placed on a temporary treatment order or a treatment order, including if you are a forensic or security patient, if your right to communicate has been restricted. If your order is being changed or cancelled. If a restrictive intervention is used, such as seclusion, this means when you are kept by yourself in a room, bodily restraint, this means when you are physically prevented from moving your body or, chemical restraint, this means when you are given a medication to stop you moving your body. 

When we receive a notification about one of these things, we will contact you by phone, or we may come to see you when we are visiting the inpatient unit. You can also call us if you need support.

What happens if you don't hear from us? You can call or email us. We may have tried to call you on your mobile and you don't have it with you or your phone number has changed. 

If you don't want us to contact you, we can put you on our opt-out register. To do this, you can call us on 9093 3701, email us at IMHAadmin@imha.vic.gov.au, or fill out the form on our website at www.imha.vic.gov.au/optout. You can scan this QR code to take you directly to the website. To opt you out, we will need your first and last name, date of birth, phone number, email, residential address, and your statewide UR number, also called a SWURN. This is a unique number the public Designated Mental Health Service gives you that we use to make sure we identify you correctly and don't contact you. If you don't know your SWURN, you can ask your Mental Health and Wellbeing Service or contact IMHA for information on who to ask. 

If you change your mind later and you now want us to contact you when you are receiving compulsory treatment, you will need to let us know so that we can take you off the opt-out register. 

If you are not currently receiving compulsory treatment but are worried your treating team might put you on a compulsory treatment order, you can still access IMHA services. Common reasons people might be concerned about being put on a compulsory treatment order include feeling like you can't make your own decisions about your treatment, feeling like you can't say no to your treating team, or your psychiatrist has said you will be put on a compulsory treatment order soon. We won't be notified if you're not receiving compulsory treatment. This means if you are worried about receiving compulsory treatment, you will need to contact us if you want support, you can call us on 1300 947 820 or email at IMHAcontact@IMHA.vic.gov.au

What does IMHA do? IMHA can support you to make decisions about and be involved in your mental health assessment, treatment, and recovery. This includes helping you to understand information about your assessment, treatment, care and recovery, supporting you to make and express your own decisions about assessment, treatment and care, assisting you to understand and exercise your rights, such as making an advance statement of preferences, choosing a nominated support person, or seeking a second psychiatric opinion, representing or advocating for your views to your Mental Health and Wellbeing Service with your consent, and supporting you to link in with other services you decide you need.

If you are 16 years or older, IMHA will advocate for you as you tell us to and will not do anything without your consent. We are not guided by what others might think are in your best interest. Under the law, if you are 15 years or younger, IMHA has to speak to you and your family, carers, and supporters so that what you need and want can be listened to and your best interests are protected.

You can get in contact with IMHA, we're here to help. You can visit our website at www.imha.vic.gov.au. You can contact us via email at IMHAcontact@imha.vic.gov.au. You can call our phone line on 1300 947 820, seven days a week between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., or you can call and listen to a free audio recording of your rights on 1800 959 353 at any time. You can ask your service, carer, or support person to help you contact us. You can ask us for an interpreter if you need one. For more information about your rights, visit our website. You can also scan this QR code to take you directly to the website.

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