Top Consumer Issues

Top Consumer Issues

There are many issues that affect mental health consumers/survivors/ex service users. This page is a place where we aim to list all of these issues.


Not everyone will agree with all of the issues on this page.
Not everyone will have experienced all of the issues on this page.
But if these issues affect even a small group of us, then they are an issue for all of us.


The information on this page will grow over time. Together we will find ways to keep reviewing the issues, adding more information and experiences and ideas about solutions, and linking each issue to relevant action by consumers, governments and others.

Let us know on the Volunteering & Contributing Forum if you want to help us develop this page, or if you have ideas about how we can make it as useful and inclusive as possible.


Involuntary Commitment and Forced Treatment in Mental Health Services

One of the most common issues raised by consumers/survivors is the loss of fundamental human rights caused by involuntary commitment to psychiatric hospitals and forced treatment.

The Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry is launching an international campaign on 29 March called:

no-force-copyCampaign to Support CRPD Absolute Prohibition of Forced Treatment and Involuntary Commitment

The campaign is timed to coincide with the opening day of the international Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – 15th session.

Consumers Australia has created a new blog page so that Australian consumers can join the international campaign. Send your submissions by 27 March to be included, and earlier if you can.

Read more and visit the Australian campaign page.


23 Big Issues

Visit the TheMHS webpage to read more about the 23 Big Issues.

From the 23 Big Issues Report:
“The 23 Big Issues were initially developed at the 2000 TheMHS Consumer Forum in Adelaide and reviewed in Townsville in 2006 and Sydney in 2010. (TheMHS is an annual mental health conference held in Australia each year. It includes all different disciplines, and many consumers and carers).

One of the crucial ingredients in getting a better outcome for people with mental illness is firstly making sure we understand the issues of importance for them, and secondly letting everyone know what the issues are and what should be done about them.

This means we need to collect information from the people involved: those with mental illness; those that care for them; those that provide services to them; and those that make policy about mental health.”

Note: This report uses language that many consumers have changed in the 15 years since the list was first developed. Very often we now prefer to avoid using terms like ‘mental illness’, although this is not true for all of us. As we reproduce the original report, we acknowledge that while the language may not be to everyone’s preference, we suspect many, if not all, of the issues are still relevant.

What are the 23 big issues?

1. Transport: Transporting people with a mental illness to hospital by police.
2. Seclusion: People experiencing a mental illness being strip-searched and put in seclusion rooms when detained in psychiatric facilities
3. Side Effects: Mental health consumers having little or no choice of prescribed medication and the side-effects that result
4. Accommodation: Lack of choice, safety and support regarding accommodation for people with a mental illness
5. Employment: Lack of employment opportunities for those experiencing a mental illness
6. Access: When Unwell People with a mental illness having to be really unwell to access help
7. Continuity of Care: Continuity of care in the community and hospitals for people with a mental illness
8. Choice of Therapist: Lack of choice in type of therapist i.e. Alternative, Psychologist, OT, Peer Worker
9. Rehabilitation: Lack of worthwhile and appropriate rehabilitation. 10. ECT: Unfair and inappropriate Detention, Treatment and Administrative Orders to force treatment such as Electro-Convulsive Treatment (ECT).
11. Unpaid Work: Amount of unpaid work done by people with a mental illness
12: Stigma: Stigma from the family, community, workplace, police force, mental health service providers
13. Lack of Information: Lack of information given to consumers about their illness and legal rights
14. Lack of Legislation: Lack of legislation protecting mental health consumers
15. Lack of Partnership: Lack of true partnership in service delivery and tokenistic representation.
16. Lack of Empowerment: Lack of empowerment for mental health consumers
17. Rural and Remote: Lack of mental health services in rural and remote areas.
18. Management Plans: Little or no involvement in management plans
19. Support from Hospital: Little support from hospital to home for people with a mental illness
20. Access to Psychiatrists: Lack of suitable access to psychiatrists
21. Children of parents with MI: Children of parents with a mental illness
22. Young People: Unique problems facing young people with a mental illness
23. C.A.L.D: Culturally and Linguistically diverse people


Victorian Consumer Workforce Partnership Dialogues Forum

In 2015 a group of consumers (about 70 people) who consult with the state government prepared a report of recommendations for mental health reform. We co-produced the report, and grouped issues to come up with three major recommendations (which are broken down into 42 individual recommendations). The three big issues were about:

1. Genuine choice
2. Trauma informed practice
3. Consumer workforce

Read the report on Victorian consumer recommendations here.