Many people in NSW experience mental illness, and this is often associated with other social and economic disadvantage. The extensive literature focusing on the crisis in mental health care and concerns about the human rights of people with a mental illness alert us to the vulnerability of this group and the difficulties they are likely to face in seeking to have their legal needs addressed. Given the focus of previous literature on mainly human rights and criminal justice issues, this report will focus primarily on civil issues for people with a mental illness. Importantly, in accordance with the design of this study, we were guided by the service providers and people with a mental illness that we interviewed, in determining the most pressing access to justice and legal needs issues.
Structure of this report
Chapter 2 of this report outlines the methodology used in this study.
Chapters 3–6 report on the findings of this study, bringing together the data collected through consultations and interviews. Pre-existing data sources and literature are also drawn on to place these findings within a broader context:
- Chapter 3 outlines the legal issues often experienced by people with a mental illness.
- Chapter 4 discusses the barriers people with a mental illness can face when they attempt to access legal assistance.
- Chapter 5 examines the experiences of people with a mental illness when they participate in legal processes.
- Chapter 6 discusses the role that non-legal service providers can play in supporting their clients with a mental illness in accessing legal assistance and processes.
Chapter 7 presents a synthesis of the report’s major findings regarding the legal issues and barriers to accessing legal assistance and processes that people with a mental illness in NSW experience.