Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Adolescents and Staff in Victorian Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 1996 Dec; 30(6): 805-812.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of the paper is to clarify the legal rights of adolescent patients, guardians and staff in Victorian Child and adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Victorian CAMHS have now been 'gazetted' and can admit patients on an involuntary basis under the amended Mental Health Act 1986 (MHA). The MHA applies equally to young people under the age of 18 years, which has raised some confusion about who has the right to consent to treatment. METHOD: Staff of CAMHS inpatient units have recently posed questions to the Victorian chief psychiatrist. These have included clarification of when the MHA may be appropriately used for adolescents, what is the clinician's duty of care, how to assess young people's capacity to consent to treatment, how to manage some patient groups, and what is the role of the courts in treatment decisions. The author provides a view on each of these matters, based on recent literature and confirmed by legal opinion. RESULTS: Some matters of fact are presented and advice is provided. CONCLUSIONS: Services must seek the informed consent of guardians and adolescents and, for those young people with major psychiatric disorders who require treatment and are unable to consent, the amended MHA provides clearer direction for the use of involuntary treatment. Where units offer admission to provide assessment and stabilisation, a clear explanation about the treatment goals, and the role of restraint and medication in managing behaviour is essential at the outset of the admission process.
Adolescents; Behavior Disorders; Competence; Consensus; Consent; Drugs; Family Relationship; Goals; Guardians; Health; Health Personnel; Health Services; Informed Consent; Institutionalized Persons; Involuntary Commitment; Judicial Action; Legal Aspects; Legal Guardians; Legal Rights; Literature; Mental Health; Mental Health Services; Mental Institutions; Minors; Parental Consent; Parents; Patient Care; Patients; Physical Restraint; Professional Family Relationship; Psychoactive Drugs; Rights; Responsibilities; Third Party Consent; Treatment Refusal;
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