Transforming New Zealand’s mental health legislation

  • Hon Andrew Little

Public consultation is now open for Aotearoa New Zealand to have a say on the repeal and replacement of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992.

“‘He Ara Oranga, the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction’ made it clear that we needed to replace our mental health legislation, and we are doing that,” Health Minister Andrew Little said.

“What we need now is for people to speak up and be heard, especially Māori and those who have lived experience of the current Mental Health Act to make sure we get the new legislation right.

“It is clear the Mental Health Act has resulted in inequity for some people including Māori; people with different cultural backgrounds; the disabled community; children and young people; and people within the justice system.

“To address these inequities and create new mental health legislation that respects the rights of everybody, recognises the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, improves equity, these groups will need special consideration under any new mental health legislation,” Andrew Little said.

“Although the Mental Health Act is only needed for a small proportion of people each year, it can have a profound effect on the lives of those who access specialist mental health services, and their whānau,” Andrew Little said.

Views are also sought on attitudes about mental health and risk, how to support people to make decisions about their mental health treatment, and what mechanisms are needed to ensure people’s safety and rights are prioritised and protected.

“This Government continues to take strides to address mental health and wellbeing to lay the foundations for a better future for all New Zealanders, but we know there is more to do,” Andrew Little said.

“This Act is 30-years old and was well overdue for an update. I encourage as many people as possible to have their say as we ensure it is fit for purpose and cares for our people properly.

ENDS

Background

He Ara Oranga, the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction’, recognised that the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 (the Mental Health Act) has not kept pace with the shift towards a recovery and wellbeing approach to care, and has never been comprehensively reviewed. The report made the following recommendation:

‘Repeal and replace the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 so that it reflects a human rights-based approach, promotes supported decision-making, aligns with the recovery and wellbeing model of mental health, and provides measures to minimise compulsory or coercive treatment.’

Recent Government mental health and wellbeing announcements:

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