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

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.


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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Gale, C., Mullen, R. & Shue, L. Guidelines, process and ethics with the New Zealand Mental Health (compulsory assessment and treatment) Act: striking a balance. BMC Psychiatry 7 (Suppl 1), S102 (2007).

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