The Mental Health Act says if you have a mental illness, and need treatment for your health and safety or the safety of others, a psychiatrist may examine you and decide that you must receive compulsory mental health treatment.
Under an order for compulsory mental health treatment, a hospital or mental health clinic will give you treatment even if you do not agree. You lose some of your rights and freedoms and you may have to stay in a hospital.
You must fit four criteria before an order for compulsory mental health treatment can be made.
The four criteria are:
- You have mental illness.
- Because you have mental illness, you need immediate treatment to prevent:
- serious deterioration in your mental or physical health, or
- serious harm to you or to another person.
- You will get immediate treatment if you are on a temporary treatment order or treatment order.
- There are no less restrictive means, reasonably available, for you to get the treatment that is needed.
For an assessment order to be made you must ‘appear to have a mental illness’, rather than the psychiatrist deciding you actually ‘have a mental illness’. Otherwise the criteria are the same.
How an advocate can support you
If you are receiving compulsory treatment, you may feel you need help to understand and act on your rights in the mental health system.
Our independent advocates can:
- listen to what you want and talk to you about your options
- give you information and support you to act on your rights
- work with you so you can have your say
- refer you to other services if requested.
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.
Reviewed 01 December 2021