Mental Health Legal Centre Inc.
Your treating team must give you a Treatment Plan if you are an involuntary patient, on an Involuntary Treatment order, or on a Community Treatment Order.
Your Doctorís Obligations
In preparing your Treatment Plan, your doctor must take into account:
- Your wishes
- The wishes of your family or carer, if this is what you want
- Any significant risks associated with the treatment
- Beneficial alternative treatments
If these things do not happen, you should ask your doctor to review your Treatment Plan.
Tip: Your doctor must give you a copy of your Treatment Plan and discuss it with you
Understanding the Plan
You have the right to understand your Treatment Plan. The Plan is an opportunity for you to ask questions about your treatment and expect answers from your doctor or case manager. If youíre unclear about any aspect of your Plan, speak up! Ask your treating team to explain:
- Why the treatment is being given to you
- Whether there is a different treatment available
- How the treatment will make you better
- Whether the undesirable effects of the medication outweigh the therapeutic benefits
- When you can expect to get better
If youíre not satisfied with the answers, ask your treating team to repeat this information in clear and accessible language. Itís also a good idea to do your own research into treatments for mental health and the effects of medication.
Tip: Ask your GP or treating team to provide you with information about the effects of different medications. You can ask for the: DHS drugs brochures, Therapeutic Guidelines Psychotropic booklet, and the Psychotropic Drug Advisory Service guide. You should also read the product information included with your medication.
Communicating Your Wishes
The Treatment Plan is a tool for communication. Itís one of the key ways that your wishes are recorded. To make the most of your Treatment Plan, you should keep your treating team informed of your wishes. Put your wishes down in writing, if possible. Give this information to your treating team and request that it goes in your medical records. This record of your wishes can be referred to later (for example, when your Plan is reviewed). If youíre having trouble writing your wishes, ask a trusted person for help.
Reviewing Your Plan
Your Treatment Plan must be reviewed regularly by your doctor. When reviewing your Plan, your doctor is required to follow their obligations. You should request a review of your Treatment Plan if you believe your treatment is not meeting your best health needs.
The first step is to make people aware of your concerns. Sometimes problems can be resolved by using the negotiation strategies outlined below. If youíre unable to resolve your situation this way, you can pursue the legal and complaints mechanisms suggested at the bottom of this page.
Tip: When youíre trying to address a concern with your Plan, itís helpful to compare your situation to the Mental Health Act. For example, it may be possible to argue that:
Negotiation can be a way for you to regain some control over your affairs. The following strategies can help you influence the development of your Treatment Plan:
- Keep your treating team informed of your wishes and concerns (preferably in writing)
- Insist that your wishes are recorded on the Treatment Plan
- Get a friend, family-member, GP or support-worker to speak to your treating team
- Ask the authorised psychiatrist to discuss any beneficial alternative treatments
- Obtain a second opinion from an independent psychiatrist
- Ask your Case Manager to initiate a review of the Plan
Tip: When negotiating itís important to listen and try to understand the other personís point of view
Legal and Complaints Mechanisms
If negotiation doesnít resolve your concerns, you can pursue one or more of the following actions:
- Call the Mental Health Legal Centre on: (03) 9629 4422 or 1800 555 887 for free legal advice.
- Lodge a formal written complaint with your health services provider.
- Complain to the Health Services Commissioner.
- Make a complaint to the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist (OCP). The OCP has the power to investigate your complaint. It can also vary your Treatment Plan or direct that it be varied (but, in practice, rarely exercises this power).
- Appeal to the Mental Health Review Board (MHRB). The MHRB canít tell your doctor what should be included in or removed from your Treatment Plan. But the MHRB can review the Plan and order your doctor to revise it if they failed to meet their obligations.
Tip: Your Treatment Plan should uphold your human rights to fairness, equality, dignity and respect!
Treatment Plan Flyer
You can download the Treatment Plan flyer in PDF format here.