Rights of mental health patients

Northern Territory Mental Health Line: 1800 682 288

This page has information for mental health patients receiving treatment in a Northern Territory (NT) inpatient facility.

Medication and/or treatment

You must be given information about your treatment medication and treatment in a form you can understand.


You must be consulted and given information about a discharge plan which includes accommodation, ongoing treatment and rehabilitation.


You have the right to expect your information will be confidential. There are some situations where information can be released for criminal cases, or where it is important for the ongoing care or treatment of a person receiving treatment.

Access to records

You can apply to access your medical records by writing a short letter to the authorised psychiatric practitioner, outlining the information you would like and why. You should receive a response within 30 days. If you are refused access you have the right to appeal to the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

Mail, phone calls and visitors

You must have access to send and receive mail and to make and receive phone calls, and receive visitors in reasonable privacy during visiting hours unless you or someone else is placed at risk.

If there is a risk, these rights may be removed by order of a psychiatric practitioner. The order must be reviewed daily and the Mental Review Tribunal told about the order.

You have the right to apply to the tribunal to have the order reviewed.


You have the right to complain if you are unhappy with any part of your treatment and care.

Complaints directly to the mental health service may be made informally, or more formal complaints may be made in writing on forms that are available from the mental health service.  

A person can also complain to the Community Visitor Program or to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commission.

Read more about how to make a complaint on the client complaints page of the Department of Health's website.

Involuntary admission: your rights

If you are admitted to hospital by a doctor, called a detention order, you also have the following rights:

  • to be examined and assessed by a doctor within 24 hours of admission
  • to be examined and assessed every 72 hours
  • to be given information about your legal rights, including right to legal representation and advocacy services - you must be told this information and given it in writing with one day of being admitted
  • to have your admission reviewed by the Mental Health Tribunal with 14 days of being admitted on the grounds of mental illness and 10 days if admitted on the ground of mental disturbance
  • to apply for the Mental Health Tribunal for an early review of your detention order
  • to request a relative, friend or community visitor go with you to the tribunal hearing
  • to appeal a decision of the Mental Health Review Tribunal to the Supreme Court.

Voluntary admission: your rights

You have additional rights as a voluntary patient, including all of the following:

  • the right to stop treatment at any time and refuse treatment offered to you - you should talk to someone in your treating team first
  • treatment may only be given with your informed consent
  • if you are being treated in an inpatient unit, you may not be placed in seclusion or restrained unless staff believe that you are becoming more unwell and you need to be detained for up to six hours for further assessment by a doctor and possible involuntary admission

Accessing your information

You have the right to view your files and receive copies of documents about your treatment and care.

You should talk to your doctor who will help you to get access.

Last updated: 02 October 2017

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