FAQs

FAQ’s – Involuntary Patients

There are two different involuntary treatment orders in Western Australia: an inpatient treatment order and a community treatment order (s21, MHA). An inpatient treatment order means you:
  • Can be admitted and detained at a hospital; and
  • Be provided with treatment without your consent (s 22, MHA).
A community treatment order means you:
  • Can be treated in the community; and
  • Be provided treatment without your consent (s 23, MHA).

A medical practitioner, or authorised mental health practitioner may refer you for an examination by a psychiatrist (s 26(1), MHA).

Only a psychiatrist may make an involuntary treatment order; no one else can (s 24(1), MHA).

If your examining psychiatrist decides that you satisfy the criteria for an involuntary treatment order under s 25 of the Act, they can make either:
  • An inpatient treatment order; or
  • A community treatment order.
Before an involuntary order is made, you would be examined by a psychiatrist at either:
  • An authorised hospital (s 26(2)); or
  • Any other place where it is appropriate for you to be examined by a psychiatrist (s 26(3)).
No. You must be examined by a psychiatrist before you are admitted as an involuntary patient.
Only a psychiatrist may make an involuntary treatment order; no one else can (s 24(1), MHA).
Yes, if you have been referred for an examination by a psychiatrist. A detention order can be for a maximum of 72 hours in a metropolitan area, and for a maximum of 144 hours outside a metropolitan area.
You are admitted as an involuntary patient because you satisfy the criteria for an involuntary treatment order (s 25, MHA). These criteria are set out in the table below.

Why am I being admitted as an inpatient on an inpatient treatment order? S 25(1), MHA
Why am I being admitted on a community treatment order? S 25(2), MHA
1. You have a mental illness and you need treatment. 1. You have a mental illness and you need treatment.
2. Your mental illness:

• Poses a significant risk to your own health or safety or another person’s safety; or
• Puts you at a significant risk of serious harm, or of harming someone else.
2. Your mental illness:

• Poses a significant risk to your health or safety or another person’s safety; or
• Puts you at a significant risk of serious harm, or of harming someone else.
• Puts you at a significant risk of suffering serious physical or mental deterioration.
3. You do not have the capacity to make treatment decisions for yourself. 3. You do not have the capacity to make treatment decisions for yourself.
4. It is not reasonable to provide you with treatment in the community. 4. You can be provided with reasonable treatment in the community.
5. You cannot be provided with adequate treatment in a way that would involve less restriction on your freedom of choice and movement. 5. You cannot be provided with adequate treatment in a way that would involve less restriction on your freedom of movement and choice.
There is no set duration of an involuntary treatment order. Your treatment order must only be in force for as brief a period as practicable. It must be reviewed regularly and revoked as soon as possible after you stop meeting the criteria for the involuntary treatment order (s 24(6), MHA).
Yes. You, your guardian, nominated person, carer or close family member may make a written or oral request for a further opinion (s 182(1),(2), MHA).
The request is made to either your treating psychiatrist, or the Chief Psychiatrist (s 182(2), MHA).

Your psychiatrist or the Chief Psychiatrist must obtain the further opinion as soon as practicable, once they have received the request (s 182(4)). They must also give you a copy of the further opinion (s 182(8)(a), MHA).

If you previously received a further opinion about your treatment and you then request an additional further opinion, your psychiatrist or the Chief Psychiatrist can refuse your request for a further opinion if they are satisfied that it is not warranted (s 183).

If they decide to refuse your request, they must give you a written record of their decision and the reasons for refusing your request (s 183(3), 183(5)(b) MHA).

Your involuntary order must be reviewed within 35 days of you being made an involuntary patient (or within 10 days if you are a child). The Mental Health Tribunal will review your status as an involuntary patient (s386, MHA).

You are entitled to have your status reviewed at any time by the Mental Health Tribunal. Mental Health Law Centre may be able to assist you with the hearing.

Please note that you will have to wait 28 days before applying for another review (or 7 days for a child), unless there has been a material change in your circumstances (s 390(4), MHA).
Under the Mental Health Act, you are presumed to have capacity to make your own decisions unless you are shown not to have that capacity (s13(1), MHA). If you do not have the capacity to make your own decisions, a person authorised by law may make decisions on your behalf (s13(2), MHA). If you are a child, you are presumed not to have capacity to make your own decisions, unless you are shown to have that capacity (s 14, MHA). If you are a child and do not have the capacity to make your own decisions, your parent or guardian may make the decision on your behalf (s 14, MHA).
You have capacity if you:
  • Understand any information or advice given to you about the treatment and alternative; and any risk;
  • Understand the matters involved in making the treatment decision; and
  • Understand the effect of the treatment decision; and
  • Are able to weigh up the factors involved in making a decision; and
  • Are able to communicate your decision.
Informed consent is defined as consent to being treated, given in accordance with the Mental Health Act 2014 (WA).
    You give informed consent if: You have the capacity to give consent (s 18, MHA); If the proposed treatment is explained to you (s 19, MHA); If you have been given sufficient time to consider the proposed treatment (s 20, MHA); If you have been given a reasonable opportunity to discuss with your health professional or to get other advice or assistance (s 20, MHA); and You give your consent freely and voluntarily (s 16(1)(b), MHA).
If you do not resist the treatment, it does not necessarily mean that you give consent to treatment (s 16(2), MHA).
The following persons can give informed consent to your treatment:
  • You; or
  • If you do not have capacity, the person authorised by law to make the treatment decision on your behalf.
This may include your enduring guardian, guardian or if you are a child, your parent(s 17(b), MHA).
Before you make a treatment decision, you must be provided with a clear explanation about the treatment. This includes the following:
  • Sufficient information to enable you to make a balanced judgment about the treatment;
  • Any alternative treatment which is not recommended or which effect cannot be predicted reliably, due to insufficient knowledge about it; and
  • Inherent risks.
No. You cannot, as a voluntary patient, be compelled to take any medication without your informed consent.
Yes. You can, as an involuntary patient, be compelled to take any medication without your informed consent (s 22(1), 23(1), MHA). If your psychiatrist compels you to take any medication, they must consider your wishes regarding treatment as best as practicable (s 179, MHA).