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Compulsory Treatment Orders

Overview of Compulsory Treatment Orders

What is a compulsory treatment order?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, ss 14, 59, 62

A compulsory treatment order is a court order stating that a person who is assessed as having a mental disorder will have to receive treatment for up to six months. For the first month, the patient must accept treatment. From the second month onwards, the patient is not required to accept treatment unless:

  • they give informed consent, or
  • treatment is considered in the interests of the patient by an independent psychiatrist (not being the responsible clinician), or
  • the patient needs emergency treatment and it is not possible to get their consent.

    Note: Treatment does not just include medication. It can also cover rehabilitation programmes, education programmes, counselling and discussion groups. But these must be related to the mental disorder.

How can I be placed under a compulsory treatment order?

Applying for a compulsory treatment order is a very serious step. There is a strict legal process that must be followed. This process is explained below.

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Mental health

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Health and Disability Commissioner


This “Mental health and addictions” webpage has information and pamphlets about mental-health services, including information for families and whānau.

Since the Mental Health Commission ceased to exist in 2012, the functions of the Health and Disability Commissioner have included monitoring mental health and addiction services and promoting improvements to those services. A specialist Mental Health Commissioner position was established in 2012 as part of the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner.

Ministry of Health Services and Support


List of publicly funded health and disability services available in New Zealand.

Mental Health Foundation


The Mental Health Foundation has useful links and resources for people dealing with mental health issues. Helplines:


1737 call or text to talk


1737 is a completely free service to call or text 1737 any time, 24 hours a day. You’ll get to talk to (or text with) a trained counsellor.

Mental health district inspectors


You can find a list of district inspectors on www.health.govt.nz if you search for “mental health district inspectors”

District Inspectors are lawyers appointed by the Minister of Health to protect the rights of people receiving treatment under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, or the Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003.

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