Last updated 1 May 2020

The Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld) defines mental illness as a condition characterised by a clinically significant disturbance of thought, mood, perception or memory (s 10 Mental Health Act). A person must not be considered to have a mental illness merely because the person:

  • holds or refuses to hold a particular religious, cultural, philosophical or political belief or opinion
  • is a member of a particular racial group
  • has a particular economic or social status
  • has a particular sexual preference or sexual orientation
  • engages in sexual promiscuity
  • engages in immoral or indecent conduct
  • takes drugs or alcohol
  • has an intellectual disability
  • engages in antisocial or illegal behaviour
  • is or has been involved in family conflict
  • has previously been treated for mental illness or been subject to involuntary assessment or treatment.

However, none of the above things means that a person does not have a mental illness.

Intellectual disability

Although an intellectual disability is not a mental illness, the Mental Health Act applies to people with an intellectual disability in some situations. A person may have a mental illness as well as an intellectual disability. Also, an intellectual disability, even in the absence of any mental illness, may be the basis for a person who is charged with a criminal offence to have been of unsound mind at the time of the alleged offence (or of diminished responsibility in the case of murder) or unfit for trial. The Mental Health Court may consider these issues in relation to people with an intellectual disability and make appropriate findings and orders.