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Last updated 31 January 2018

The Meaning of Mental Illness
The Mental Health Act
Mental Illness and the Criminal Law
The Mental Health Court
The Mental Health Review Tribunal
The Chief Psychiatrist
Mental Illness and Consent to Treatment
Treatment Criteria to Justify Involuntary Treatment
Involuntary Treatment for Mental Illness
Assessment and Treatment of People Living in the Community
Assessment and Treatment of People before a Court or in Custody on Criminal Charges
Psychiatrist Reports for Patients Charged with Serious Offences
Powers of Courts Hearing Criminal Matters
References to the Mental Health Court in Criminal Matters
Findings the Mental Health Court may make on a Reference
Forensic orders and treatment support orders
Reviews by the Mental Health Review Tribunal
Appeals under the Mental Health Act
Regulated Treatments
Prohibited Treatments
The Use of Restraint and Seclusion
Appointing a Nominated Support Person
Interstate Mental Health Laws
Mental Illness and Legal Capacity

Mental illness is as much an illness as physical illness and affects people in the community from all walks of life. Mental illness is diagnosed by psychiatrists who consider the patient’s mood, behaviour and appearance, description of symptoms and the results of tests. In making a diagnosis, psychiatrists essentially categorise symptoms to decide what description best fits the person’s mental disorder.

People with mental illness have the same legal rights and obligations, and are subject to the same laws as the general population. Sometimes, however, mentally ill people may be affected by specific laws that regulate their treatment, their rights and their obligations. In particular circumstances, a person who is mentally ill can be required to have involuntary treatment, either in hospital or in the community. This chapter provides an overview of these laws.

In Queensland, the Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld) (Mental Health Act) is the main piece of legislation that deals with these matters.

In criminal law, a mental illness may result in a person not being criminally responsible for an offence they are charged with, or it may make them unfit for trial. The Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) deals with these issues, but the Mental Health Act provides an avenue for people to be diverted from the criminal justice system so that these issues can be decided by the Mental Health Review Tribunal.