Mental Health Line
1800 011 511
My Story: Jane, caring for a son with schizophrenia
In our series of videos for Mental Health Month watch this engaging interview with Jane, who cares for her son, diagnosed with schizophrenia.
When a patient is admitted to a mental health unit
When you arrive at the hospital, a mental health professional will collect information from you, or your family, to determine the most appropriate treatment during your stay. This is usually a Psychiatrist and a Mental Health Nurse but there are also other professionals such as Psychologists, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists or Pharmacist that may be involved in developing your care plan. If you have any questions or concerns you can ask the staff and they will assist you. You will always be treated in a respectful and caring way.
We recommend limiting your visitors to less than four people at any one time for the comfort of yourself and other patients.
Visiting hours are generally between 2.00pm - 4.00pm & 6.00pm - 8.00pm. These times are flexible and may vary in some units. If you need to visit outside of these hours please check with the person in charge of the Unit.
You can request an interpreter if you speak another language. This is a free service. Translation services can be provided in person or by phone and are available seven days per week. AUSLAN Interpreters are also available for deaf people.
Rules you need to be aware of
There is an expectation that patients and visitors respect others and not engage in physical or verbal aggression. Visitors who are physically or verbally aggressive will be asked to leave the healthcare facility.
Smoking is not allowed in any healthcare facilities. Free nicotine replacement options such as patches, gum and lozenges will be provided for patients in mental health units.
Alcohol and illegal drugs are not allowed to be used or brought into mental health facilities.
In order to maintain a safe and therapeutic environment staff may apply rules and restrictions on things such as drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, dangerous objects, large sums of money or mobile phones. Please check with the person in charge of the unit to ensure you are complying with current rules.
Can children visit a patient in a Mental Health Unit?
Children are welcome to visit the facilities on most occasions. We know how important it is to be around the people you care for and who care for you. It is always best to check with the person in charge of the Unit to ensure that a visit is possible. Children visiting any of the Units should be well-supervised by a responsible adult at all times. In some facilities, visits may take place in a private or family-friendly room.
Can patients take leave from a Mental Health Unit?
If you are a patient in a Mental Health Unit you may be able to have periods of leave if the treating team have agreed to this. Please check with the person in charge of the unit. We always endeavour to apply the least restrictive means of care when it is safe to do so. In the early stages of an admission there may be legal constraints limiting leave time. When possible, staff encourage a process of gradual leave, increasing over time.
What rights do I have?
Patients in mental health facilities are governed by a special body of law called the NSW Mental Health Act. This law states that you must be treated in the least restrictive means possible while ensuring the safety of everyone is maintained. You have many rights, these are some of them:
In the first instance, it is best to resolve complaints with the manager of your healthcare provider. Try to remain calm and be as clear as possible about what happened and how you would like it resolved.
If you feel the issue is not being dealt with adequately you can contact or write to the Director of the Mental Health Service describing your complaint or concern. Your complaint will be treated confidentially and you will be informed of any action or outcome relating to your complaint.
Complaints can also be lodged with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) Tel. 1800 043 159. The HCCC is independent of the public health system.
Official Visitors Program
Official Visitors are appointed by the NSW Minister for Health and are independent from the health system. Official Visitors aim to safeguard standards of treatment, and advocate for the rights and dignity of people being treated under the NSW Mental Health Act. Official Visitors make regular visits to all inpatient psychiatric facilities, there is also an Official Visitors mail box in each ward for messages and Official Visitors can be contacted by phone 1800 208 218.