Mental Health Roles

Medical Roles Explained

Administrative Officers (AO)

As the primary contact on the ward/community clinic, the Administrative Officer assists and directs visitors by accessing mental health consumer information and provides an effective and courteous front counter service. The Administrative Officer responds to general reception enquiries on the ward/community clinic by answering all incoming telephone calls and ensuring accurate transfer of messages and information to support mental health consumers and staff, and undertakes other administrative tasks that support the clinical team.

Allied Health Professionals

  • Occupational Therapist (OT) – A person who has completed specialist training in how a person is able to use their personal strengths and their environment to enable them to live independently and provide therapy through creative or functional activities that promote recovery and rehabilitation
  • Psychologist - A person who has completed an approved University degree plus either specific supervision or completion of a post-graduate qualification, who works to apply psychological principles to the assessment, diagnosis, prevention, reduction and rehabilitation of mental distress, disability, dysfunctional behaviour, and to improve mental and physical well-being. Psychologists can provide individual and group psychological therapies
  • Social Worker - A person with specialised training in individual and community work, group therapies, family and case work, advocacy and the social consequences of disadvantage and disability, including mental disorders. They can provide psychosocial treatments for mental disorders

Carer Consultant

A carer or family member of a person with mental illness employed by the health service to support other carers, family and significant others and advocate on their behalf. Carer consultants also work with other mental health staff to encourage them to effectively partner with carers and families.

Case Manager / Care Coordinator

A mental health clinician assigned to coordinate and deliver services to meet a consumer’s identified needs and goals. These clinicians have specialist mental health skills and knowledge and can be a psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist or nurse.

Consumer Companion / Peer Support Worker

Provide support from a lived experience perspective and offer interaction, companionship, hope, encouragement and peer support for consumers within acute mental health inpatient units or community care units.


  • Consultant Psychiatrist – A medical doctor who specialised in psychiatry. Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that is involved in the study, treatment and prevention of mental illness and the promotion of mental health
  • Registrar – A registered medical doctor completing specialist training to be a psychiatrist o Intern – Preregistration doctor in their first post graduate year (also called PGY1)
  • Resident – A person in training to be a medical doctor
  • Medical student – advanced student doctors completing their clinical training who may be part of the treatment team.


  • Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) – The person in charge of the inpatient unit, who is responsible for staffing, financial and operational management of the unit
  • Clinical Nurse consultant (CNC) – A senior nurse with extensive expertise in mental health nursing and expert clinical skills and knowledge, who holds a specialist Mental Health qualification
  • Clinical Nurse – A senior nurse with advanced mental health nursing skills and specialist qualifications in mental health who in the inpatient unit will be the nurse in charge of a shift or who may work as a case manager in the community
  • Registered Nurse – A qualified registered nurse. Registered nurses working in mental health services are especially trained to provide promotion, maintenance and restoration of mental health. Nurses can administer medications but cannot prescribe them
  • Enrolled Nurse (Endorsed) – An enrolled nurse endorsed to give medication
  • Enrolled Nurse - A nurse who can provide a range of nursing activities under the direction and supervision of a Registered nurse and who is responsible and accountable for providing delegated nursing care.

Patient Liaison Coordinator

Employed by Qld Health (external to the Mental Health & Addiction Service), to provide an impartial, confidential service to discuss complaints and assist in the resolution of concerns and issues.

Patient Safety Coordinator

Provide assistance to the wards to investigate serious clinical incidents involving consumers. Involved in improvement and learning from clinical incidents and staff education.

Professional Head or ‘Senior’

The head of a professional team e.g. Director of Psychiatry, Director of Social Work.

Recovery Clinician

A Recovery Clinician works with consumers with a focus on improving their quality of life and inclusion in work, education, recreation, social and everyday living. They work in the wards and in the community mental health service. Their professional training has been as a clinical nurse or occupational therapist.

Service Director

The Service Director is responsible to the Chief Executive for all of the inpatient and outpatient services of the public Sunshine Coast Mental Health & Addiction Service.

Speech and Language Pathologist

A person who has completed specialist training at university to assess and treat people who have communication problems such as talking, understanding, social use of language and gesture. When there are communication difficulties, combined with a mental health illness, it can be a frustrating and anxiety provoking experience.

Team Leader

A health practitioner who operationally manages a mental health community team: E.g. Continuing Care Team

Reference: mh-care-team.pdf

Non-Medical Roles Explained

Independent Patient Rights Advisor (IPRA)

An IPRA is appointed by the hospital and health service. The IPRA is not part of your treating team. IPRAs work independently and impartially, and are part of a state-wide hospital network.

The IPRA can:
  • advise patients and their supporters of their rights under the Mental Health Act 2016, including at Mental Health Review Tribunal hearings
  • help patients and their supporters to communicate the views, wishes and preferences of the patient about their care
  • work cooperatively with supporters to further the interests of the patient
  • advise patients 18 years of age and older of the benefits of making an advance health directive or appointing an enduring power of attorney for health matters
  • work with advocates and community visitors under the Public Guardian Act 2014
  • consult with members of the treating team and the Chief Psychiatrist on the rights of the patient under the Mental Health Act 2016 and other laws.
Reference and Factsheet: IPRA Factsheet

Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT)

See page Mental Health Review Tribunal

Nominated Support Person(s)

A person may appoint up to two nominated support persons (eg family or friends) for purposes relating to the Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld) (Mental Health Act) (s 223). A nominated support person can receive notices and confidential information for the person. If the person is charged with a serious offence, a nominated support person may ask the chief psychiatrist for a psychiatric report. Also, the nominated support person may act as a person’s support person in the Mental Health Review Tribunal, or represent the person in the tribunal (s 224 Mental Health Act).

Reference: Queensland Law Handbook

Support Person (s) Resources


The role of a lawyer at a Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) hearing is to represent the person’s views, wishes and preferences. If the person cannot express their own views, wishes and preferences, then the lawyer is to represent the person’s best interests.

Alternate Decision Maker

An individual/s who is/are authorised to make health care decisions for a person who lacks capacity to consent including, a parent (for a minor), an attorney appointed under an Advance Health Directive (AHD) or Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA), a guardian, or a statutory health attorney.

Parent For a minor
Minor A person under the age of 18 years.
Parent – includes:
  • a guardian of the minor (under the Child Protection Act 1999)
  • an individual who exercises parental responsibility for the minor, other than on a temporary basis (e.g. child minding)
  • for an Aboriginal minor – an individual who, under Aboriginal tradition, is regarded as a parent of the minor, and
  • for a Torres Strait Islander minor – an individual who, under Island custom, is regarded as a parent of the minor.
Advance Health Directive (AHD) A document stating the person’s consent to health care that comes into effect when the person does not have capacity to make health care decisions. The directions may include consent to special health care e.g. electroconvulsive therapy.
Attorney under an Advance Health Directive (AHD) An individual/s appointed by the person to exercise power for a health matter in the event that directions in an AHD prove inadequate. A health matter is a matter relating to health care, other than special health care.
Guardian A person appointed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to do, in accordance with the terms of appointment, anything in relation to a personal matter that the individual could have done if the individual had capacity. The person may be appointed to make decisions about all personal matters or specified personal matters e.g. health care (excluding special health care), accommodation, provision of services.
Attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) An individual/s appointed by the person to do anything in relation to personal matters that the person could have done if the person had capacity for the matter. A personal matter is a matter relating to the person’s care including health care or welfare, excluding special health care.
Statutory Health Attorney
  • For a health matter, the first in listed order of the following people who is readily available and culturally appropriate for the matter:
  • a spouse of the person if the relationship is close and continuing
  • an adult (i.e. 18 years or more) who has care of the person and is not a paid carer for the person
  • an adult who is a close friend or relation of the person and is not a paid carer for the person.
If none of the above listed people is available and culturally appropriate, the Public Guardian is the person’s statutory health attorney for the matter

Decision Making

For more information about decision making and alternative decision makers see also:

Other Resources

AHDs and Less Restrictive Ways - Qld Health Factsheet

Examinations and Assessments - CPP Practice Guidelines
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