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Detained, Diagnosed, and Discharged: Human Rights and the Lived Experience of Mental Illness in New South Wales, Australia 

Detained, Diagnosed, and Discharged: Human Rights and the Lived Experience of Mental Illness in New South Wales, Australia
Chapter:
Detained, Diagnosed, and Discharged: Human Rights and the Lived Experience of Mental Illness in New South Wales, Australia
Author(s):

Meg Smith

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199213962.003.0024
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date: 18 October 2019

Meg Smith provides a historical perspective with sharp contemporary relevance, as she details what it was like to be treated for a major mental illness in New South Wales in the 1980s. She describes the vagaries of legislation regarding compulsory detention and treatment, including lack of requirement for corroborating evidence of mental illness, lack of legal representation or medical attendance at hearings, and failure to consult with relatives and carers. She notes in hospitals the lack of protection against assault, lack of recognition and response regarding iatrogenic effects of medication, automatic takeover of one’s financial affairs with assets used to pay fees, and the contemporaneous tragic scandal of Chelmsford Hospital’s deep sleep programme. She recalls how, following the method of Rosenhan’s classic study, her postgraduate psychology class admitted themselves to mental hospitals with fictitious symptoms of mental illness, and how she did not have to do the class exercise because she got academic credit for being a real patient. She details the advent of consumer movements and community care, legislative reforms and official enquiries that began to change these trends, noting that while the law has improved in several ways, there is much to do strengthening social resources.

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