How mental health law discriminates against people with mental illness – Professor George Szmuckler
- People who have been involuntarily admitted to a hospital
- People appearing before the Guardianship Division of NCAT
- People who have been charged with a criminal offence.
If you have been detained in a hospital under the Mental Health Act you may be brought before the Mental Health Review Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’). A lawyer can represent you in the inquiry and also advise and represent you about things like your financial affairs, community treatment orders, and appealing against a refusal by the doctor to discharge you. The Mental Health Advocacy Service, a division of Legal Aid NSW, may be able to assist with this.
Touring the Raymond Hill School at the Klingberg Family Center
Forced Psychiatric Detentions Remain a Problem
has grown in the public and political consciousness. The
pervasive impact of poor mental health on health, socio-
economic and cultural life is now well recognised. The need
to improve promotion of mental health and responses to
people with mental illness across all areas of government
has become clear.
receive appropriate treatment to achieve an optimal state of
mental health, the fact is that a significant portion of people
who come into contact with the criminal justice system are
receiving little or no care. Diversion and support programs
for people with mental illness can act as a gateway to care,
redirecting people in need of supports to the services that
can provide them. By focusing on the underlying causes of
offending behaviour, diversion and support programs also
help to make our communities safer.
There are a number of bases for diversion and support programs, each of which has something different to say about the rationale and purpose of establishing diversion programs. Diversion and support programs have potential to:
•provide a health-orientated response to a health-related
•reduce re-offending by addressing underlying causative
•mitigate the criminalising or labelling effect of punitive
•reduce the total social cost to the community of under-treatment of mental illness
•improve compliance with human rights obligations.
Pre-arrest and arrest programs will not involve a new
referral or linkage in all circumstances. For example, police
may choose to caution a person they know to be under the
care of community mental health services, where it would
be detrimental to their recovery and of no benefit to the
community to proceed with the criminal process.
Where an arrest is made, interventions may involve facilitating
access to assessment or treatment while in police custody;
after release from custody while on police bail; or after a
decision to release a person without charge. Post arrest
interventions may also occur in liaison with prosecutors
who are considering whether it is in the public interest for prosecution of the person with mental illness to proceed.
Mental health court liaison services commonly have
multiple functions, whether or not they are associated with
formal diversion programs. They may undertake mental
health assessments and court reports in support of fully
informed judicial determinations of fitness to plead and to
stand trial, eligibility for court diversion, bail and sentencing
considerations. They may also directly support defendants,
through provision of clinical services, referral and linkage
to other service providers, case management or service
brokerage and liaison with community or prison based
mental heath services.
For more information, go to http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/aic/njceo/diversion_support.pdf