Involuntary Mental Health Patient Rights
If you are an involuntary patient under the Mental Health Act, there are two important things you need to be aware of:
- You have the right to request help from a Mental Health Advocate
Mental Health Advocacy Service
6/18 Harvest Tce West Perth 6005
Ph (08) 6234 6300 or Freecall 1800 999 057
2. You can contact the Mental Health Law Centre to request legal advice
Mental Health Law Centre
255 Hay Street, Subiaco 6008
PO Box 8078, Subiaco East 6008
Ph 9328 8012
Guide to Your Rights as the patient of a psychiatrist
We have produced a Guide to Your Rights as the patient of a psychiatrist. Most points also apply to involuntary patients, with the notable exception of point 19. Failure to comply voluntarily with medication while under the Mental Health Act can lead to forcible compliance by medical staff.
- You have the right to be fully informed of the diagnosis made. You have the right to know against which criteria, as specified in the Diagnostic Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, the diagnosis has been made.
- You have the right to have the diagnosis explained plainly in the language most clearly understood by you.
- You have the right to an interpreter.
- You have the right to decide whether a personal representative, friend or family member shall be present with you when discussing diagnosis, treatment, medication etc
- You have the right to decide whether a personal representative, friend or family member shall be present with you when undertaking individual treatment.
- You have the right to know if the psychiatrist considers an initial diagnosis to be provisional (ie. yet to be confirmed) and if so to have the implications of this explained.
- You have the right to discuss the diagnosis with the psychiatrist and to raise any concerns, eg if you believe the diagnosis may be incorrect.
- When a referral is made by the treating psychiatrist, you have the right to know why you are being referred including whether it is for a second opinion, or because of limited clinical experience of the referring practitioner
- You have the right to be informed of the reasonably foreseeable risks and relative benefits of proposed treatments and alternative treatments, and the opportunity to choose the treatment with which you wish to proceed.
- You have the right to give informed consent to medication and treatment. Informed consent is consent obtained freely after appropriate disclosure of adequate and understandable information, in a form of language understood by you.
- You have the right to comprehensive information about any proposed medication, what problem the medication is treating, and why a particular medication is chosen as opposed to an alternative.
- You have the right to have the side effects of medication comprehensively explained to you and to discuss alternative methods of treatment.
- You have the right to be fully informed of the nature of correspondence between the psychiatrist and the referring general practitioner.
- You have the right to know the principal method or technique the psychiatrist intends to adopt in order to treat you, eg psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, pharmacology, exposure and response prevention, etc. You have the right to know why the psychiatrist feels a particular method or technique is the most appropriate and to have this communicated to your referring general practitioner.
- You have the right to raise your own issues and discuss what you wish to discuss and not necessarily what the psychiatrist wishes to discuss.
- You have the right to have the fee structure explained to you.
- You have the right to a second opinion.
- You have a right to access information about your condition through the psychiatrist, including appropriate written information, and contact details of support groups.
- You have the right to stop treatment or medication at any time, subject to any power of a psychiatrist to act without your consent.
- You have the right to have any proposed experimental procedures fully explained to you, along with the risks and benefits, before you give consent.
- As a public patient, you have the right to obtain copies of your health records (information about yourself) under the Freedom of Information Act 1992. As a private patient, you have the right to request copies of health records held by your psychiatrist under the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000. (In both sectors the request should be made in writing. If you are under the Mental Health Act, some service providers may be exempted from providing you access to your medical records in certain circumstances.
The Mental Health Commission’s Consumer Handbook to the Mental Health Act 2014 is an in-depth reference to help people experiencing mental illness to navigate the mental health system and uphold their rights.