duty of care for mental health

Mental Health Care and the Responsibilities of Care

What is mental health? 

‘Mental health’ is often used as a substitute for mental health conditions that affect a person’s mood, thinking and behaviour. 

The signs and symptoms of a mental health condition depends on the disorder and circumstances of the person. Some examples of mental health conditions may include (but are not limited to): 

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Excessive anger, hostility, or violence
  • Suicidal thinking

Mental health conditions can cause distress, impact on day-to-day functioning and relationships. 

Without appropriate mental health support or treatment, a person who suffers from mental health issues can fall victim to further issues. 

Why is mental health important?

Mental health is an important component for everyone. From childhood, through to adulthood, our mental health affects how we think, feel, and behave. It is also a key player in our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and impacts how we can handle stress, empathise with others, and make decisions. 

Nurturing and supporting our mental health allows us to realise our full potential, cope with the stresses of life and make meaningful contributions to our community.

Some people with high levels of mental health have may include: 

  • Increased learning
  • Increased creativity and productivity
  • More pro-social behaviour and positive social relationships
  • Improved physical health and life expectancy

What is duty of care in mental health services?

Mental health services exist to meet the needs and preferences of people with mental health conditions as well as to assist in their mental health recovery.

It is an expectation by Australian Law that people with a mental health condition receive safe and high-quality mental health support and treatment when they are unwell. 

Mental health statement of rights and responsibilities

The Mental health statement of rights and responsibilities provides a framework to guide policy and practice as well as inform mental health carers and those with mental health conditions. 

Access to this publication is free and can be found at the Department of Health website, or simple download the pdf here – Mental health statement of rights and responsibilities.

If you need help understanding the Mental health statement of rights and responsibilities document, talk to our mental health negligence lawyers today. 

Our mental health negligence lawyers are happy to assist you with any concerns you might have about your duty of care as a mental health carer and can provide you with expert legal advice.

How do we define mental health carers?

Mental health carers are trained practitioners, peers or family who provide mental health care, supportand assistance to people who need mental health services. 

Mental health carers may be the following: 

  • Case managers
  • General practitioners
  • Mental health nurses
  • Paediatricians
  • Peer workers
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • Therapists

Mental health carers do not include people that:

  • Provide care, support, or assistance as a volunteer for an organisation
  • Provide care, support, or assistance as part of course training 

Employer’s duty of care to employee’s mental health

Under Australian Law, employers have a similar duty of care as mental health carers. 

Understanding the risk of your employees’ mental health and psychological injuries in the workplace is a critical part of managing and promoting mental health and wellness.

Employees can make mental health negligence claims against their employer if there is evidence that their employer failed to act on their concerns and complaints in the workplace. For example, bullying that led to a mental health condition or worsening of an existing mental health condition. 

Setting clear policies and procedures to manage risk and complaints can help employers educate their employees and ultimately support the mental wellbeing of employees in their workforce. 

Contact our workplace lawyers today for help in creating and communicating a mental health policy and procedure at your workplace to manage mental health risk and promote positive mental health. 

If you are an employee who wish to give your employer notice regarding a possible negligence claim due to mental health condition, contact our office for an obligation free discussion.

Reach out to our mental health negligence lawyers now for legal advice and representation on your case.

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