Kate* had managed her anorexia for 20 years and had never been an involuntary patient. She was placed on an Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO) without her knowledge after she hesitantly agreed to an overnight stay in hospital. Kate found it difficult to sleep in hospital and discharged herself so she could go home. Kate only became aware of the ITO when the police arrived at her home that evening with an order for her to go back to hospital. Kate then contacted QPILCH’s Mental Health Law Practice (MHLP) for help. She was very distressed at how she had been treated and felt at a loss because she had no knowledge of her rights.
The MHLP helped Kate to understand her rights and the review process at the Mental Health Review Tribunal. An advocate worked with Kate and her husband to prepare for the review hearing and the advocate attended the hearing with them. The advocate was able to explain that Kate had not been given the opportunity to respond to the medical report provided to the Tribunal by her psychiatrist, and the hearing was adjourned.
Kate’s advocate continued to help Kate and her husband prepare for the next review hearing and to understand and respond to the medical report. Kate and her husband felt confident enough to attend the hearing without the advocate.
“…the advocacy service helped us with the legal jargon, to know who would be present at the hearing and how it would be run. [The advocate] led the way. We felt more confident and it was less scary. It definitely helped us understand the hearing process.”
The MHLP provides free legal help to people with mental illness or impacted by mental health laws who cannot afford a private lawyer. We have a panel of trained, independent volunteers who provide assistance and advocacy to people with ITO review hearings in the Mental Health Review Tribunal. The MHLP commenced in 2012 with a donation from the English Family Foundation and since then has assisted at over 250 Mental Health Review Tribunal hearings.
* Not her real name