The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act turns 21 this year – how is it used, and does it need to change? New Zealand’s Mental Health Act in Practice constitutes a thorough, non-governmental review of the workings of the Act. It provides a rounded portrait of the implementation of New Zealand’s compulsory assessment and treatment regime, set within its wider legal context – a portrait drawn by clinicians and consumers, lawyers and officials, nurses and social scientists, Māori and non-Māori, alike. Questions raised in the book include:
- How are the legal standards governing compulsory treatment applied?
- Do the review procedures sufficiently protect those under the Act?
- Should mental health patients with capacity have the right to refuse treatment?
- Is the operation of our aging MHA, under which Māori are over-represented, rates of coercion seem to be rising, and links seem to exist between compulsion and social deprivation, genuinely consistent with New Zealand’s stated commitment to human rights?
New Zealand’s Mental Health Act in Practice provides welcome expert scrutiny of important legislation governing one of the most vulnerable sectors of society.
John Dawson is a Professor of Law at the University of Otago, with a particular interest in mental health law; he has published widely on the law governing involuntary psychiatric treatment, and legal relations between mental health professionals and their clients. He was a principal investigator in the Otago Community Treatment Order Study.
Kris Gledhill is a barrister, a senior lecturer in law at The University of Auckland, and the inaugural Director of the New Zealand Centre for Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice. His research interests include mental health law, particularly forensic risk assessment and the regulation of its use in the legal arena; and comparative human rights law, particularly its impact on mental health law.
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