Dr Sarah Pollock has been appointed Chief Mental Health Advocate for Western Australia.
Dr Pollock will head up the Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS) and oversee 40 advocates across WA.
The MHAS and advocates assist mental health consumers to understand and enforce their rights, have their voice heard by those providing treatment and care and resolve any identified issues.
Dr Pollock has a background in research and advocacy for national mental health service provider Mind Australia and most recently provided advice and assistance to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
She completed her PhD in health equity and human rights and how to enhance service user agency in social care in 2016.
The Chief Mental Health Advocate is responsible for ensuring that ‘identified persons’ are visited or contacted in accordance with the Mental Health Act 2014. The Chief Advocate has the power to make enquiries about the treatment, care and conditions of identified persons and promotes compliance with the Charter of Mental Health Care Principles by mental health services.
Identified persons include involuntary inpatients, children on mental health wards, people on orders in emergency departments, psychiatric hostel residents and mentally impaired accused detained at an authorised hospital, and others as set out in the Mental Health Act 2014.
Last financial year the Mental Health Advocacy Service supported nearly 3,500 people and represented involuntary patients at over 1,000 Mental Health Tribunal hearings.
Dr Pollock has been appointed by the Minister for Mental Health for five years and will begin her term at the end of February 2021.
In a crisis call Lifeline on 13 11 14, for free counselling call beyondblue on 1300 224 636, and to find local mental health services visit https://www.myservices.org.au
For more information about the Mental Health Advocacy Service, visit https://www.mhas.wa.gov.au
As stated by Mental Health Minister Roger Cook:
“I would like to thank Debora Colvin for her tireless work over the past 12 years, in advocating for rights of people with mental illness and driving improvements to mental health services.
“Ms Colvin is a passionate and dedicated public servant, never afraid to be forthright, who has led the Mental Health Advocacy Service through a period of growth and development. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.
“I am also very pleased to appoint Dr Pollock to this role. She was an outstanding candidate for the role with a strong commitment to person-centred advocacy and social justice with a deep understanding of rights issues for people with mental health issues.
“She has extensive experience across the mental health, social care and education sectors and is a subject matter expert on mental health systems and policy advocacy.”