Mental Health Treatment and Your Rights

Introduction

The Mental Health Act 2009 in South Australia allows for both voluntary and compulsory treatment of mental health conditions.

An individual undergoing voluntary treatment is not required to continue with appointments with treatment providers, with medications or other treatment programs.  However if someone is subject to a community or inpatient treatment order, there are requirements to continue with this treatment.

For more information on compulsory treatment see Fact Sheets Detention and Treatment Orders and Community Treatment Orders

Appeals

An appeal is a challenge to a decision or order.  It involves taking the matter to a higher body to see if this body believes the correct decision or order was made. 

Compulsory treatment orders can be appealed.

  • All decisions to make level 1 community and level 1 and 2 inpatient treatment orders can be appealed by application to the South Australian Civil & Administrative Tribunal.

Review Of decisions made by The South Australian Civil And Administrative Tribunal

The Tribunal makes and reviews level 3 inpatient treatment orders and level 2 community treatment orders and other decisions under the Act. An application can be made to the Tribunal for an 'internal review' of these orders. An 'internal review' is undertaken by senior members of the Tribunal who were not involved in the original decision. The review is a fresh look at the decision, taking into account the information provided when the order was made and any other information accepted by the Tribunal. An application for internal review of a treatment order can be made at any time while the order is in effect.

For more information on appeals see Appeals (Mental Health Act 2009)

A legal representation scheme is available free of charge to the person the order under review or internal review is about. The person is entitled to be represented by a lawyer and can be provided with a lawyer through the scheme. Other parties to a review will need to make their own arrangements and payment for legal representation.

Other Rights of people receiving mental health treatment

As well as the general intentions of the Mental Health Act 2009  and appeal rights outlined above, the following important rights are covered:-

  • requirement that mental health professionals inform individuals of their rights, provide copies of any involuntary orders and variations to those orders and assist people to understand these, including using interpreters.
  • participation in own treatment and care planning
  • privacy of personal information and when this can be shared for what purpose and with whom.  Note that voluntary patients retain the right to decide what involvement carers, relatives or friends have in their treatment and care.
  • right to ask for support of another person in interviews with mental health professionals.  (This could be a guardian, medical agent, carer, relative, friend, and a representative of the Public Advocate or another advocate.)

Rights of Carers Relatives and Friends

The Mental Health Act 2009 recognises the importance of carers, relatives and friends as participants in the treatment, care and recovery of individuals with mental health problems.  

The Act-

  • allows for the sharing of personal information between mental health professionals and carers provided that this is in the best interests of the person under their care.  If the person is under an order, information that is reasonably required for the care, treatment or rehabilitation of the person can be shared without consent.
  • sets an expectation that a guardian, medical agent, carer, relative or friend will be involved in treatment and care planning when someone is subject to an involuntary order.
  • requires that one of the above people:
  • receives a copy of all involuntary orders that are made, varied or revoked by psychiatrists or authorised medical practitioners;
  • receives a copy of the statement of the patient’s rights;
  • unless such a person cannot be located or it is not in the best interests of the person with the mental illness.
  • allows these parties to lodge applications for community treatment orders, review of orders and appeal against decisions.
  • acknowledges the right to seek contact with a community visitor who visits the treatment centre