Getting help

If you do not understand your rights, have complaints or are concerned about your care, Mental Health Advocates are there to help. We can protect your rights, help you to express your own wishes, and say what you want to happen.

We have specialist Youth Advocates and Aboriginal Advocates.

How we can help you and who we can help are explained below.  

Once you contact the Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS), arrangements can be made to assist you. We can work with your family or other support persons if you prefer. 

How an advocate can help

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We are on your side and can help you:

  • understand and enforce your rights
  • arrange a meeting with your doctor or treating team and attend with you
  • explain your wishes to your treating team
  • discuss leave from the ward with your treating team
  • seek to resolve issues concerning you at the facility
  • get a further opinion from another psychiatrist
  • apply to the Mental Health Tribunal to review your involuntary order or other decisions made about you
  • support you in the Tribunal hearing
  • refer you to lawyers
  • get input into your treatment, support and discharge plan
  • make a complaint about the mental health service
  • get you an interpreter
  • make contact with your family or other support persons
  • have your physical health needs met
  • access culturally appropriate care

We have powers under the Mental Health Act 2014 to help us advocate for you. If you don’t object, we can look at your medical file and try to get answers to questions you have about your treatment and care.

Mental health services staff must answer our questions, provide us with information and help us try to resolve issues for you.

Who we can help

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Mental Health Advocates can help you if you are:

  • an involuntary patient in hospital
  • someone on a Community Treatment Order (CTO)
  • someone who has been referred for examination by a psychiatrist (they must let you use a phone to call us if you are being detained)
  • a voluntary patient in hospital who is not allowed to leave because you are being detained for assessment
  • a mentally impaired accused person under the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996 (e.g. on a Hospital or Custody Order) and are detained in an authorised hospital or living in the community
  • a resident of a private psychiatric hostel.

If you are not sure if you are one of the above, call us anyway:

  • we may be able to help you
  • we can still tell you your rights or
  • we can refer you to someone else who can help.

The following voluntary mental health patients can also request help from an Advocate:

  • All children (under 18 years):
    • being treated in emergency departments, public or authorised hospitals
    • where treatment is being given or proposed by a mental health service
    • seeking an admission to hospital
  • All children in community mental health services who were assisted by a MHAS Advocate when they were:
    • a voluntary patient or 
    • involuntary inpatient
  • Adults (and children) who were in involuntary care and were assisted by a MHAS Advocate for an issue or complaint that remains unresolved and further action can be taken.

Family, carers and other personal support persons can call us on your behalf and we will work with them if you consent.

They include:

  • parents
  • guardians
  • other personal support persons
  • mental health ward staff.

Children must be contacted within 24 hours of the request and adults within a reasonable time. A MHAS advocate will make contact within 48 hours. 

How to contact us

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You can contact us by phone, email or request someone to contact us for you. There are also interpreter and emergency services you can use.

You have the right to call us at any time or ask Mental Health Services staff to call us for you. An Advocate will either phone you back or visit you as soon as they are able to.

You can also:

  • approach a Mental Health Advocate while they are visiting a hospital, mental health service or hostel, or
  • ask a staff member to call us. Mental Health Services staff must call us within 24 hours.

We have Mental Health Advocates based in Perth, Albany, Broome, Bunbury and Kalgoorlie. If you are somewhere else, we will contact you by phone.

See the Contact Us page for details or refer to the contact information on this web page.

When we will contact you

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Once we have been contacted, a Mental Health Advocate will contact you.

If you have been referred for examination, we must contact you within 3 days but we will try to contact you within 24 hours. If not, then the following will apply.

Over 18 years of age

We will contact you within 7 days if:

  •  you have just been made an involuntary patient
  • you have just been put on a Community Treatment Order
  • you are a mentally impaired accused and have just been detained in an authorised hospital.

Under 18 years 

We will contact you within 24 hours if:

  •  you have just been made an involuntary patient
  • you have just been put on a Community Treatment Order
  • you are a mentally impaired accused and have just been detained in an authorised hospital.

You can also approach a Mental Health Advocate while they are visiting a hospital, mental health service or hostel or ask a staff member to call us. Mental Health Services staff must call us within 24 hours.

Page reviewed 24 May 2022