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  • Oral presentation
  • Open Access

Guidelines, process and ethics with the New Zealand Mental Health (compulsory assessment and treatment) Act: striking a balance

  • 1,
  • 1 and
  • 2
BMC Psychiatry20077 (Suppl 1) :S102

  • Published:


  • Public Health
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Illness
  • Clinical Care
  • Clinical Interview

The New Zealand Mental Health (compulsory assessment and treatment) act [1] was amended to mandate the consultation of family and care-givers in every stage of civil committal. Although the use of committal has been seen by clinicians as an impediment to care [2] and clinicians continue to have concerns about the timing of discharge from the act [3], many people with serious mental illness have experienced the act as beneficial [4]. A recent review of the regulations has increased the length and detail of the reports clinicians have to provide to the court. This, combined with a clear directive that an advocate who is not part of the clinical care process must be present during the clinical interview to commence committal, may be causing a conflict between the provision of care in a timely manner when patients are at risk and complying with the requirements of the court.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Psychological Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, P O Box 913, Dunedin, 9054, New Zealand
Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, 1000, New Zealand


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  3. Mullen R, Dawson J, Gibbs A: Dilemmas for clinicians in use of community treatment orders. Int J Law Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  4. Gibbs A, Dawson J, Mullen R: Community treatment orders for people with serious mental illness: a New Zealand study. Br J Soc Work. 2006, 36: 1085-1100. 10.1093/bjsw/bch392.View ArticleGoogle Scholar


© Gale et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2007

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.