What happens at the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal?


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In this episode you will hear from Callum Hair a lawyer from the Mental Health Advocacy Service at Legal Aid NSW and Dr Jean Hollis a psychiatrist and Tribunal member at the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal.

The episode explores mental illness and what process people go through at the Mental Health Review Tribunal (“MHRT”). You’ll also hear about Legal Aid NSW’s Mental Health Advocacy Service (“MHAS”) and when it is appropriate to refer clients to them.

This episode is a longer one so here are some time stamps that can help you navigate the episode:

  • From 1.16 hear Callum describe what Legal Aid NSW’s MHAS does and also what they don’t do, hear about the legal definition of a ‘mental illness’, the process that someone goes through before they appear at a Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing, and get some insights into what a MHAS lawyer will do for their client and why the work is so important.
  • From 17.21 hear Dr Hollis talk about how the MHRT makes decisions, Callum also talks about the different orders the MHRT can make
  • From 21.34 hear Dr Hollis talk about some of the most common mental illnesses that the MHRT sees, discusses how mental illness and drug and alcohol interact, gives some information about the role of genetics and environment in mental illness, what we don’t know about mental illness and the symptoms that some people experience.
  • From 33.21 hear Dr Hollis talk about some of the treatments available for mental illnesses including electro convulsive therapy

Please contact Law Access NSW on 1300 888 529 if you would like more information about the work MHAS does or would like a referral to them.

You can visit the Mental Health Review Tribunal website here: Mental Health Review Tribunal - The Tribunal (nsw.gov.au) and there is a video that helps explain what happens at a hearing here: Mental Health Review Tribunal - The Tribunal Process - Short Films (nsw.gov.au)

Here is a link to Mental Health First Aid Australia’s website: Homepage | Mental Health First Aid (mhfa.com.au)

Lifeline Australia offers a range of training programs based on the development of mental health awareness and skills. See more here: Workplace Training - Lifeline Australia People can also call Lifeline’s crisis support line on 13 11 14 if they or someone they’re working with needs confidential short-term support because they are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping or staying safe.

For general information about your legal rights you can find information here: Welcome to LawAccess NSW

The Department of Communities and Justice capacity toolkit is a useful resource if you are trying to assess whether someone you’re working with has capacity. You can find that here: Capacity Toolkit (nsw.gov.au)

Please note that some of the information in this episode may be different due to the impact of COVID – 19. For example, while solicitors are now able to go back to most facilities to obtain instructions, this is only a recent development. It may also be subject to change at short notice. Also, the time frame for mental health inquiries has been extended because of COVID-19.

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