Rights of carers within specialist mental health services

Mental health clinicians are keen to work with family members and carers and understand that families and carers need information about their relative or friend’s treatment plan. Clinicians also understand that families and carers play a vital role in supporting the recovery of their loved one, especially if they receive the appropriate information and support. Sometimes, because of privacy, mental health clinicians may not be able to discuss some of the issues affecting your relative or friend. This will occur if your relative or friend does not give consent for release of their information to you.

This situation changes in the event that your relative or friend is receiving services under the Mental Health Act, and you are a nominated person, a carer or have been included in an Advance Agreement or Advance Consent Direction. Find out more about these on the page Carers and Decision making under the Mental Health Act.

If you are a nominated person, you are entitled to receive information to assist you with your roles of:

  • supporting the person to make decisions
  • advocating for the person’s decisions and rights
  • being consulted concerning decisions affecting the person (for example if an application is made for a mental health order)
  • helping the person to express their views
  • attending the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal

If you are a carer, you are entitled to:

  • Receive information about the rights of people under the Act from a mental health professional acting under the Act
  • Receive information about an order concerning the person you are caring for
  • Receive information about and about their rights as a carer concerning an order
  • Have your views considered about orders being made or ended
  • Be informed by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) that a hearing is to be held concerning the person you care for
  • To make a submission to the ACAT for consideration at the hearing or apply to the ACAT to attend the hearing.

Within an Advance Agreement or an Advance Consent Direction you may be listed as a person who can be contacted and who can receive information.

As a relative or friend, you can still:

  • Let the mental health clinician know about your concerns and the clinician can listen to your concerns without breaching confidentiality
  • Provide valuable information and insights that could help the mental health clinicians to better care for your loved one
  • Seek general information about ways to support your loved one.

Mental health carer support in specialist mental health services

Canberra Health Services has two Family and Carer Clinicians to support families and carers of people currently engaged with Canberra Health Services Mental Health Services.

Referral criteria:

  • Is someone in your family, or a person you provide care for, currently accessing mental health care through Canberra Health Services?
  • Is the mental health system new to you?
  • Do you need support to understand how mental health services work and how to navigate the services?
  • Are you experiencing distress or fatigue or feeling overwhelmed in the caring role?

Family and Carer Clinicians are available to support you.

If you would like to speak to a Family and Carer Clinician you are invited to get in touch via email at familycarerclinicians@act.gov.au. Please provide a short description of your situation, the name and date of birth of the person you are caring for, and how can we support you. You can also ask the clinician working with the person you care for to put you in touch with a Family and Carer Clinician.