Key messages

  • Advocates support patients to make or participate in decisions about their assessment, treatment and recovery, and to understand and exercise their rights.
  • Advocates also support patients to access other services.
  • The Independent Mental Health Advocacy service is independent, free and confidential.

Advocacy is an important part of supported decision-making. Mental health advocates support patients under the Mental Health Act 2014 to make or participate in decisions about their assessment, treatment and recovery, and to understand and exercise their rights.

Role of advocates

Advocates provide information and support patients to understand and exercise their rights. They can:

  • support patients to express their views, discuss treatment options with the treating team and make decisions about their assessment, treatment and recovery
  • represent the patient’s views and preferences about their treatment and recovery at the request of a patient
  • support patients to develop the skills and confidence to have their say
  • support patients to access other services, such as legal representation or the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner.

Advocates do not provide legal representation or legal advice. If patients need legal help, they will be referred to Victoria Legal Aid.

Who is eligible for advocacy?

Advocates support patients under the Mental Health Act 2014, both inpatients and patients in the community. This includes people:

  • on an assessment order
  • on a court assessment order
  • on a temporary treatment order
  • on a treatment order
  • on a secure treatment order (security patients)
  • who have been found unfit to stand trial or not guilty because of mental impairment and are being held in a designated mental health service (forensic patients).

Advocates may also support:

  • people in the first month after discharge from compulsory treatment
  • people who are voluntary inpatients but who are at risk of being placed on a compulsory order.

Advocates cannot advocate for family members or carers.

Contact

Contact the Independent Mental Health Advocacy service on 1300 947 820 between 9.30 am and 4.30 pm Monday to Friday or email contact@imha.vic.gov.au.