Save The Rights of Involuntary Patients!

 It was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald today (4/6/10) by Deborah Snow that,

 “The NSW Mental Health Tribunal is poised to introduce a new system which will mean a patient can be detained for up to one month before their case is reviewed by a lawyer’

 At present it happens approximately within one week of admission.

 Now folks I want you to flood the NSW Mental Health Tribunal; (02) 9816 5955, even better 1800 815 511 or; with phone calls and emails in protest because:

 This cost-saving (only) measure means:

 After being dragged into hospital against your will, locked-up, your property removed, your access to the outside world severely constricted and your physical body forcefully invaded with medication;

 And yes, this probably needs to be done, for most involuntary admissions are due to acute psychosis or suicidal behaviour. but this doesn’t make it any less traumatic. And now your going to have to wait a month before getting legal representation?

 As an ex-psych nurse let me explain these rights. Mental Health Acts were re-written in the 1980s. Our Government finally recognised the ‘rights’ of individuals with psychiatric illnesses. Having started my career in an old ‘mental bin’ I can assure you patient rights were non-existent. The new Mental Health Acts meant;

 Patients had to have access to their legal rights in hospital. It was the Psychiatric Nurses job to ensure the patient was given and understood these rights.

 They have the community visitors, an independent group to complain to if they felt they were being mistreated, and the unit has to provide the number and facilitate the call.

 And they had the Mental Health Tribunal that they could appeal too if they feel their admission &/or treatment was unjustified. The very tribunal that is stepping on rights with this decision.

 When a person is admitted; a traumatic experience; we can tell them they have legal rights despite appearances,  and that within a week, an independent lawyer can review their admission if they wish.

 This is powerful. Often it dissipates at least some of the clients anger as they feel at least a tad empowered in an otherwise disempowering situation.

 And a week my friend is so much better than a month. A month, in this state, without legal regress is unimaginable for the person concerned and should be totally unacceptable to us, the general community.

 Wouldn’t you think so…if we dragged you out of your home…forced medication in your body and….

 Please people, these folk need our voice for they are often too disempowered to use their own.

 Step up won’t you?

2 thoughts on “Save The Rights of Involuntary Patients!

  1. I just called this number and was put through to a registrar. He immediately demanded to know who I was and why I was calling, so I said that I was a student at the Uni of Syd studying mental health. He cut me off and said he had no time to do my assignments for me (that’s actually what he said), I quickly interjected and asked him straight out if this information (… new system which will mean a patient can be detained for up to one month before their case is reviewed by a lawyer) is correct. He directed me to the website and hung up. So I would like to know if this is still something the Tribunal is going to do or if this is old news and I am getting worked up over nothing.

    • I certainly haven’t heard about it but each state in Australia has a different mental Health Act. I’m afraid in reference to the Registrar they don’t have time any more and either do nurses or anyone in the mental health system here because the need is great and the resources’ just keep being reduced. I can find out the answer if you tell me what state you live in.

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