A Paramedic s Guide to Dealing

Mental Health Act 2000 QLD

The Mental Health Act 2000 provides for the involuntary assessment, treatment and protection of people who have a mental illness, while at the same time:

  • safeguarding their rights and freedoms and
  • balancing their rights and freedoms with the rights and freedoms of other people.

Assessment and treatment under the Mental Health Act 2000

In some cases, a person’s mental illness may stop them from recognising that they require assistance or an admission to hospital. In these circumstances, it may be appropriate for the person to be assessed under the Mental Health Act 2000.

The purpose of an involuntary assessment under the Mental Health Act 2000 is to determine if the person requires treatment for a mental illness.

The involuntary assessment of a person may only be commenced if a request for assessment and a recommendation for assessment are both in place. A person cannot be forced to have either an assessment or treatment without the required documents or treatment order being in place.

An adult who has observed the person in the last three days and believes the person may have a mental illness may make a request for assessment. However, a recommendation for assessment may only be made by a doctor or authorised mental health practitioner.

Once both these documents are in place, a person can be taken to an authorised mental health service by a health practitioner or an ambulance officer for assessment. While the person is at the authorised mental health service for the assessment, they are an ‘involuntary patient’.

At the end of the assessment period (which must not be longer that 72 hours), and if the person meets the ‘treatment criteria’ of the Mental Health Act 2000, they may be placed on an involuntary treatment order.

On making an involuntary treatment order, the authorised doctor must specify the category of the order. The category may be ‘inpatient’ or ‘community’. This decision is based on whether the person needs to be admitted to the hospital for inpatient treatment, or can be effectively treated while living in the community.

If the person is being treated as an inpatient, the authorised doctor can also authorise limited community treatment. Limited community treatment enables an inpatient to receive short periods of leave in the community. This process enables a process of transition prior to discharge from hospital.

Find out more about the Mental Health Act 2000 and how it governs involuntary assessment and treatment, and patient rights and responsibilities.

Who the Mental Health Act 2000 may impact

The Mental Health Act 2000 only affects a small proportion of people with mental illness, as it does not generally provide for voluntary treatment for mental illness.

You may come into contact with the Mental Health Act 2000 because:

  • there are concerns about your mental health and it is determined that there is no less restrictive way to ensure you receive appropriate treatment for your mental illness
  • you have been charged with a criminal offence and there are concerns about your mental state at the time of the offence or fitness for trial.

Your treatment will be reviewed regularly by your doctor and the Mental Health Review Tribunal. If you are under an involuntary treatment order, you will not remain under the Mental Health Act 2000 if you no longer meet its criteria for involuntary treatment. The Mental Health Review Tribunal website explains this process.

Patient rights

Your rights are protected under the Mental Health Act 2000 in relation to any assessment, treatment and care you receive. One way this is done is by allowing you to nominate a support person, known as an ‘allied person', to help you have your say. The allied person can help you understand your rights, and speak with your treating team and also the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

As an involuntary patient under the Mental Health Act 2000, you can expect to:

  • be treated with dignity and respect at all times
  • have your religion and cultural background respected and taken into account
  • be treated in a way that respects your privacy
  • have personal information dealt with confidentially
  • receive information in a form and language that you best understand
  • receive the assistance you require to communicate effectively, including assistance from an interpreter.

The Mental Health Court

The Mental Health Court is part of the Supreme Court. Judges, assisted by two psychiatrists, determine the state or mind or fitness for trial of people charged with criminal offences. The Court also hears appeals from the Mental Health Review Tribunal and inquires into the lawfulness of patients detained under the Mental Health Act 2000.

The Mental Health Review Tribunal

The Mental Health Review Tribunal is an independent body set up under the Mental Health Act 2000 to protect the rights of people receiving involuntary treatment for mental illness.

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Source: www.qld.gov.au
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