Mental Health Coordinating Council acknowledge the differences in the language and terminology used across the mental health, health, disabilityDisability is defined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) as total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions; total or partial loss of a part of the body; the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness, capable of causing disease or illness; the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body; a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour. More and alcohol and other drugs sectors, Across many disciplines, mental health practitioners and workers quite confusingly use different terminology and forms of expression, Throughout this Manual we have endeavoured to be consistent but sensitive to language used in a particular context. Nevertheless, for the purpose of necessity, in several sections of the Manual, we have been obliged to use specific terms because they have a particular meaning in that context. An example of this is in relation to the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW), where use of the word “patient” rather than “consumerIn this manual, a consumer refers to a person with direct experience of a mental illness, and who has received, is receiving or is seeking mental health services from a mental health service provider. A consumer may be a patient in a mental health facility or unit and/or, is a client of a community mental health service (whether public or community managed) where they may be receiving mental health care and treatment and/or psychosocial support services. More” or “person with lived experience” is used to refer to a person cared for and treated under the Act. This is because in this situation, people are patients of the NSW Health Service and are described in this way in the legislation.
Some people living with mental health conditions may, at some stage in their lives, find themselves in hospital, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and may be subject to treatment orders under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW). When this happens, they are considered to be a person either with ‘mental illness’, or a ‘mental disorder’ under the Act. Therefore, throughout this Manual we use the term “people who are mentally ill” in reference to a person who is a patient under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) or the Mental Health and Cognitive ImpairmentCognitive impairment is defined by the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020 (NSW) as an ongoing impairment in adaptive functioning and in comprehension, reasoning, judgement, learning or memory, which has resulted from damage or dysfunction to the brain or mind. Cognitive impairment may arise from intellectual disability, dementia, autism or foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. More Forensic Provisions Act 2020 (NSW). Elsewhere we use the term “person living with a mental health conditionThe term mental health condition is a broad term that refers to symptoms that may be caused by life events, genetic factors or birth defects. This condition can be temporary, episodic or lifelong. A mental health condition can include mood, anxiety, personality, psychotic and compulsive disorders. It includes, but is not limited to, those conditions and symptoms recognised as constituting mental illness under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW). More” in broader reference to people who experience some form of ‘psychiatric condition’ or have been diagnosed with a condition. We also use terms where used in policy, standards and guidelines and by services describing their programs, etc. We also use the term “psychosocial disabilityPsychosocial disability is not about a diagnosis, it refers to the social and economic consequences related to living with a mental health condition. It is a recognised term used to describe the challenges, or limits, a person experiences in life that are related to their mental health condition. Not everyone living with a mental health condition has a psychosocial disability. More” or “people with lived experienceLived experience is the knowledge and understanding acquired from living through or with something. This manual frequently refers to people with lived experience of mental illness; in this context it means people living with mental health conditions and all this entails (sometimes called consumers) and family or friends supporting someone living with mental illness (sometimes called carers). More” in some contexts to refer to people living with mental health conditions who may experience difficulties in their interactions with the social environment because of the barriers to their equal participation in society and the discrimination that exists in that environment.
There is a glossary of Key Terms used in the Manual in Appendix 1.
There is also a simplified overview of the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) provided in this Manual (in Chapter 4).
The purpose of the 5th Edition of the Manual is to bring together, in one resource, the diverse set of mechanisms, services and systems that support people living with mental health conditions, their families, carers and supporters, including the workforce across multiple service systems. This includes the interrelated issues in relation to the care and treatment, employment, housing health and disabilityDisability is defined in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) as total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions; total or partial loss of a part of the body; the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness, capable of causing disease or illness; the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body; a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour. More rights and the participatory and civil rights of people living with mental health conditions to fully participate in society as parents, partners, employees, community members and leaders.
Whilst the Mental Health Coordinating Council takes a leadership role in promoting legislative reform and policy development in the mental health sector and related areas, this Manual does not seek to advocateAn 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 or write on the behalf of another person. A person’s family or friends can be their advocates, or their advocate may be a professional. An advocate may or may not be a lawyer. More about the law or mental health policy, it merely informs the reader about the status of the law and policy as it currently stands and present realistic ways in which people can exert their rights and meet their obligations.
However, the Mental Health Coordinating Council in its work as a peak body strives to contribute to a system in which the status, independence and human rights of people living with mental health conditions, families, carers and support persons is advanced. Its aim is to promote recoveryIndividual or personal recovery is defined as being able to create and live a meaningful and contributing life within a community of choice, with or without the presence of mental health difficulties. ‘Recovery’ can mean different things to different people; but in general, it means: gaining and retaining hope; understanding of one’s abilities and difficulties; engagement in an active life; personal autonomy; social identity; meaning and purpose in life, and a positive sense of self. More and assist people to maintain or return to active participation in the community and live meaningful lives on their terms, in spite of their mental health conditions. We are committed to ongoing communication with government agencies about the efficacy and outcomes of legislation and policies currently in place with regards to mental health and co-existing conditions.
MHCC’s discussions with members and with government are published regularly in policy and position statements and submissions that are freely available through the Mental Health Coordinating Council’s website at: mhcc.org.au
Updated June 30, 2021