Your Rights as an Involuntary Patient - Tasmania's Mental Health Act 2013

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The Tasmanian Mental Health Act 2013 (the Act) aims to protect the rights of people with mental illness. This brochure explains your rights as an involuntary patient and what you can do if you think that your rights are not being respected.

What Rights Do I Have?

You have the right to:

  • be treated with respect and to have your rights restricted only when this is necessary for your health and safety or the safety of others
  • have your individual needs respected and met whenever possible
  • only be taken into protective custody when the Act allows
  • be detained in hospital in protective custody for a maximum of four hours unless an Assessment Order or Treatment Order is made which requires you to stay in the hospital for a longer period
  • only be secluded or restrained, or be given urgent treatment when the Act allows
  • apply for leave from hospital and be given help to apply for leave. You also have the right to be given a copy of any leave pass that is issued or the reasons why your application for leave is refused
  • be transferred from one hospital to another only if this is directed by the Chief Civil Psychiatrist (or his delegate). You also have the right to be transferred from hospital to a Secure Mental Health Unit only if the Chief Forensic Psychiatrist (or his delegate) authorises the transfer
  • have private contact with your representatives, support persons and Official Visitors
  • have your privacy respected and your personal information dealt with confidentially in most cases
  • be given information about your rights and about the rules and conditions of the hospital
  • be given information about your diagnosis and treatment
  • be given copies of documents that are relevant to your assessment, treatment, diagnosis and care. This includes a copy of any Assessment Order or Treatment Order that is made and a copy of your treatment plan
  • have information given to you in a way that you can understand. This might involve being given access to an interpreter
  • be given help while in hospital to understand and exercise your rights
  • receive general health care while in hospital.

What Rights Do I Have While in Hospital?

In most circumstances you have the following rights while in hospital:

  • to have access to current information about local, national and world events
  • to practise your religion and customs alone or with others, and to have things with you that you need to practise your religion or customs
  • to wear your own clothing
  • to be given access to physical aids and communication aids if you need them.

Can I be Involved in Making Decisions About My Assessment, Treatment and Care?

Under the Act you may only be given treatment:

  • with informed consent, or
  • if the treatment is authorised by the Chief Civil Psychiatrist or the Mental Health Tribunal.

Both your informed consent and authorisation from the Mental Health Tribunal are needed for you to receive some types of special psychiatric treatments.

You should also:

  • be allowed and supported to make your own decisions as much as possible
  • be involved in decisions about your assessment, treatment and care
  • be able to give information at your Mental Health Tribunal hearing.

Can I Choose Someone to Represent Me?

Under the Act:

  • your guardian or lawyer can represent you
  • if you are a child your parent can represent you
  • you can also nominate any another person to represent your interests
  • the Mental Health Tribunal can organise a representative for you if needed.

Can I ask for a review of decisions made under the Act?

Under the Act:

  • you have the right to ask the Mental Health Tribunal for a review
  • you have the right to be given reasonable notice of a Mental Health Tribunal hearing
  • you can attend the Mental Health Tribunal hearing
  • your representative can also attend the hearing
  • if you are not happy with the decision that the Mental Health Tribunal makes, you may be able to appeal to the Supreme Court
  • you can ask the Chief Civil Psychiatrist to intervene directly in your assessment, treatment and care.

How Can I Raise Concerns and Complaints?

A copy of the Fact Sheet ‘How Can I Raise Concerns and Complaints?’ should be attached to this fact sheet or you can ask your case manager or another member of your treating team for a copy.

The Fact Sheet provides information on who you can contact to raise any concerns or complaints you have about your care and treatment.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • you can speak with your case manager or another member of your treating team
  • you can contact the Chief Civil Psychiatrist
  • you can contact Advocacy Tasmania or ask your support person or representative to contact them
  • you can ask an Official Visitor to visit wherever you are being treated
  • you can make a complaint to an Official Visitor or ask your support person or representative to make the complaint
  • you can contact the Mental Health Tribunal Registrar
  • you can also contact the Health Complaints Commission or Ombudsman if you are unhappy about any other aspect of your treatment and care.