Mental Health Week – a good time to see how we can assist

Mental Health Week – a good time to see how we can assist

Monday, 10 October 2016

Around 26 per cent of our clients have told us they have a disability or mental health issue. They are among the clients we assist who are experiencing the most disadvantage and challenges.

They make up 28 per cent of our clients who are homeless, around 30 per cent of our clients from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, and more than 35 per cent of those on a government pension or benefit.

We are able to help people experiencing mental health issues with concerns around their compulsory treatment and guardianship and administration matters, as well as problems including Centrelink issues, discrimination, fines and infringements, family law issues and police matters.

In the past twelve months we established an Independent Mental Health Advocacy and this new service is providing information, referral, advocacy and coaching to support self-advocacy for people on compulsory orders. The service is focussed on assisting people to have as much say as possible in their assessment, treatment and recovery and provided more than 12,100 services in its first year.

Advocates are based in Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo and Dandenong but support people across Victoria. They are now able to assist from 34 units in all designated mental health services.

Our mental health legal services

During 2015–16 we helped:

  • Vicki establish her right to live in housing in reasonable condition despite paying low rent
  • Ella win a discrimination case and be reimbursed by an insurance company after cancelling travel plans due to depression
  • Tricia (not her real name) advocate with support  to avoid injections and continue her oral medication
  • Nella (not her real name) resist being moved interstate and detained for compulsory treatment 
  • William (not his real name) end compulsory treatment that had gone on for 16 years.

We also strengthened our services by:

We also advocated to improve public understanding of laws that influence verdicts of not guilty due to mental impairment and held an event to share a research report – Shining a Light Behind Closed Doors – which explores how legal services can better protect the human rights and dignity of people with mental illness and cognitive disabilities who have been detained for compulsory treatment.

How we can assist

We have information about:

If we can’t help you with your legal problem or provide you with non-legal advocacy through the Independent Mental Health Advocacy service, we can refer you to other organisations who can.

Contact

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

More information

Mental Health Week is from 9–15 October, with a great range of events in Melbourne and regional areas to be found on the Mental Health Foundation’s Victorian events page.

Learn how and who our Independent Mental Health Advocacy service helped in its first year.

Our Senior Advocate Sophie Howes recently appeared on the 3CR Brainwaves program. Listen to what she had to say on the podcast.

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