The Mental Health Review Tribunal states: A Community Treatment Order is a legal order made by the Mental Health Review Tribunal or by a Magistrate. It sets out the terms under which a person must accept medication and therapy, counselling, management, rehabilitation and other services while living in the community. It is implemented by a mental health facility that has developed an appropriate treatment plan for the individual person.
A Community Treatment Order authorises compulsory care for a person living in the community. If a person breaches a Community Treatment Order, by not complying with the conditions of the Order, the person may be taken to a mental health facility and given appropriate treatment, including medication.
I responded to an email from Being (formerly NSW Consumer Advisory Group) that was looking for a person who had experience with receiving a Community Treatment Order. The request involved giving a 20 minute speech representing a consumers experience of involuntary community treatment. Consumer, in the mental health framework,refers to someone who has had direct experience of “mental illness” and have used or are currently using mental health services. I eagerly put up my hand as I qualified and strangely in my recent years enjoy public speaking. Why is enjoying public speaking strange? Well according to a Gallup Poll (conducted Feb 18-21, 2001 with 1,016 respondents), a site I discovered through my friend Mr. Google, it’s number 2 in our top 10 fears.
I’m surprised death isn’t on that list! So with my desire to speak publicly once again I prepared my speech. I am please to say it went well and I kept to time. The forum created a good talking point, not only the effectiveness of Community Treatment Orders, but also the importance of quality of community treatment.
“Either way, long term, a Community Treatment Order is ineffective. If the person isn’t on board, it won’t be effective long term. The whole process left me feeling powerless and a second fiddle in my treatment. We learn from the choices we make, if those choices are made for us, where is the space to make our mistakes and grow? I had been told enough times that “bipolar” has no cure, but with treatment you can lead a fulfilling life, hence the push towards treatment and the justification for using a Community Treatment Order. But how can people be so quick to say there is no cure when they do not know the cause? Fortunately I am living without medication today, and this might not have been the case if I believed that it was the only way to prevent another episode. Not because of a Community Treatment Order but because there is the possibility I would have believed it was necessary…”