Thursday, October 25, 2018


Earlier today was with a client who has been "sectioned", confined against his will under the Mental Health Act, and threatened with forced medication if he does not comply... he is told for example he will be held down and forced to take vallium. He does not know any of the doctors and staff in the ward, and does not wish to interact with them. From what he says, at the core of his experience is a sense of frustrated powerlessness, as he is being constantly overuled. Have yet to speak to clinical staff and get their input.

Prior to being sectioned client was doing well in detox, and apparently had a psychotic episode, or "attack of paranoia", and was transferred across to the Mental Health section of a different hospital. When I visited him, I agreed to call the Mental Health Advocacy service, who provide free legal advice to people hospitalised against their will, and who can help represent them at the tribunal. Client described - quite coherently - the sequence of events leading to him being sectioned. This included correct recall of chronological sequence, place names and medication. The service was busy and said they would call us back (that was several hours call yet, but here's hoping).

In the meantime client and I received permission to leave the ward for an hour, to walk up to the hospital shop to buy smokes. Understandably, but perhaps unfortunately, my client kept on walking, and I was unable to persuade him to voluntarily return. So now the police may get involved....these are difficult issues...when do we invoke the god of safety so as to disregard the expressed wishes of someone, who quite lucidly explains their dislike of being threatened with consequences, coerced into compliance and having their (illusion of) agency limited? I certainly don't know.

Mental health legal advice in NSW, Australia

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