This section outlines where you can go if you have any concerns about being an involuntary patient or about the care and treatment you receive as a voluntary or An Involuntary patient is someone who is admitted and detained in a hospital or psychiatric unit for care and treatment under the Mental Health Act 2007. In most cases it refers to a person who is detained under an Involuntary Patient Order made by the Mental Health Review Tribunal. In some circumstances the term includes an ‘assessable person’ detained in a mental health facility prior to a Mental Health Inquiry. To read more see Chap 4C.5..
If you are an An Involuntary patient is someone who is admitted and detained in a hospital or psychiatric unit for care and treatment under the Mental Health Act 2007. In most cases it refers to a person who is detained under an Involuntary Patient Order made by the Mental Health Review Tribunal. In some circumstances the term includes an ‘assessable person’ detained in a mental health facility prior to a Mental Health Inquiry. To read more see Chap 4C.5. and want to have your involuntary status reviewed, you should contact the Authorised Medical Officer of the hospital where you are being treated and ask them to discharge you. To find out more about this, click here.
If you want legal advice about being an An Involuntary patient is someone who is admitted and detained in a hospital or psychiatric unit for care and treatment under the Mental Health Act 2007. In most cases it refers to a person who is detained under an Involuntary Patient Order made by the Mental Health Review Tribunal. In some circumstances the term includes an ‘assessable person’ detained in a mental health facility prior to a Mental Health Inquiry. To read more see Chap 4C.5. or want a lawyer to represent you at a Mental Health Inquiry held by the Mental Health Review Tribunal or at another type of hearing of the full Mental Health Review Tribunal, you can contact the Mental Health Advocacy Service.
If you have concerns about the quality of your care in hospital, you can contact the Health Care Complaints Commission.
If you have concerns about any issue to do with your treatment and care (except legal issues about your involuntary status) you could contact a Consumer Advocate or Peer Worker within the hospital.
If you have particular concerns about your care and treatment as an involuntary patient or the physical state of the hospital or unit where you are being treated, you can contact the An ‘official visitor’ is a person appointed to visit, inspect and raise any matter of concern about the conditions of persons who are detained or accommodated in certain restrictive environments or under certain restrictive conditions. Official visitors are appointed by the NSW Minister for Health under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) to visit NSW Mental Health Facilities. There are also official visitors to correctional facilities and official community visitors to a range of residential facilities accommodating people with disability in NSW..
If you are an assessable person or an involuntary patient and want to be discharged, at any time you can ask to speak to the Authorised Medical Officer , or the person delegated by the Medical Superintendent to be the ‘Authorised Medical Officer’, to discharge you.
You could either argue that you are no longer ‘mentally ill’ person under the definition in the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) or that you could be treated in a less restrictive setting, such as in a private hospital, while living and being cared for by family or friends, through receiving community care and/or private psychological treatment.
The Authorised Medical Officer has the power to discharge you at any time if they believe you are no longer mentally ill, or that there is other care of a less restrictive kind, consistent with your safe and effective care, reasonably available to you. Despite an order made by the Mental Health Review Tribunal, an involuntary patient can be discharged at any time by hospital medical staff or be made a A voluntary patient is someone who admits himself or herself to a Mental Health Facility, or agrees to remain in a Mental Health Facility to which they were involuntarily admitted, of their own free will in circumstances where they have the capacity to give informed consent to mental health care and treatment to be provided to them. A Guardian may also admit a person who does not have capacity to consent to treatment to a Mental Health Facility as a voluntary patient, provided that person does not refuse or object to the mental health care and treatment being provided to them.. The Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) says that one of these things must happen if you no longer meet the definition of mentally ill or mentally disordered under the Act. Many people don’t remain as involuntary patients for the full length of time set out in the order made by the Mental Health Review Tribunal at the mental health inquiry.
There is an application form to ask for a review of your involuntary status. You can ask any member of the hospital staff for the form. When you have completed the form, ask a staff member to give it to the Authorised Medical Officer. The form for this is called ‘Application by a Patient for Discharge from Hospital’, click here to download the form.
However, there is nothing in the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) that stops you from approaching the Authorised Medical Officer directly and putting your case to him or her verbally. If you want to do this and find that you are not able or allowed to make contact, you could ask a member of your family or a friend to do so. Alternatively, you could approach a legal service or an advocacy service and tell them of your attempts to contact the Authorised Medical Officer.
If the Authorised Medical Officer decides to discharge you, they can delay discharge for up to fourteen (14) days if they believe it is in your best interests.
If the Authorised Medical Officer rejects your application to be discharged, or does not respond to your request for discharge within three (3) days, you can appeal to the Mental Health Review Tribunal. The Mental Health Advocacy Service in Legal Aid NSW provides free representation at hearings of these appeals before the Mental Health Review Tribunal.
The Medical Superintendent of a hospital can and should, like the administrator of any public health facility, receive and deal with complaints and concerns about the general standard of care you receive in hospital. It is always best to, if possible, to put such complaints or concerns in writing and keep a copy.
The Mental Health Advocacy Service is part of Legal Aid NSW. The solicitors from the Mental Health Advocacy Service ensure that your views are heard by the Tribunal. They will act on your instructions, and check that the procedures and rights set out in the Act have been followed. This is a free service.
The Service provides free telephone advice on all aspects of mental health law. The Service can be contacted on (02) 9745 4277 during business hours.
The Service provides free legal representation in hearings before the Tribunal in these circumstances:
There are some circumstances where the Mental Health Advocacy Service will consider whether you can afford to pay for a lawyer (‘means test’) or whether you have a very strong case (‘merit test’) before helping you. These are the circumstances:
The Mental Health Advocacy Service does not generally represent consumers in the following matters:
The Mental Health Advocacy Service also provides representation on request to people who are the subject of applications before the Guardianship describes the legal relationship that is created when someone is given the legal authority to make certain decisions on another person’s behalf because it has been determined that the person does not have the legal capacity to make these decisions for themselves. In NSW, Guardians are appointed by the Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to make some medical and lifestyle decisions for a person A Guardian does not have authority to make financial decisions on a person’s behalf. Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The Tribunal must first either agree for the person to have a lawyer (‘grant leave’) or the Tribunal can ask for a lawyer to act as a ‘separate representative’.
For further details and advice about representation contact the Mental Health Advocacy Service (02) 9745 4277.
Many hospitals have Consumer Advocates and Peer Workers. They are people with lived experience as patients ( or carers of patients) in the mental health system. They are employed by the Area Health Services to provide support and advice to patients and their carers and relatives.
Consumer Advocates and Peer Workers:
Consumer Advocates and Peer Workers are unlikely to be able to resolve issues such as discharge, or major concerns about the standard of patient care that challenge decisions of medical staff.
If you do not know who the In this Manual, ‘consumer’ refers to someone who receives or has received in the past, mental health or psychosocial support services, such as a patient in a mental health facility or unit, or is a client of a community mental health service whether public or community managed. An advocate is a person who will support someone and help them stand up for their rights, needs and wants. An advocate can also sometimes speak, write or stand up for a person’s rights on the behalf of another. To read more about advocates and the NDIS read Chap 13.F.5 or Peer Worker is in the hospital, ask the nurse unit manager or the social worker.
Updated March 20, 2020