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Compulsory Treatment Orders

The effects of a compulsory treatment order

What does it mean to be under a compulsory treatment order?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 59

If you are placed under a compulsory treatment order, you have to accept treatment for the first month of the order. This means that you can be treated without your consent.

After the first month of the compulsory treatment order, you do not have to accept treatment unless:

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

  • you agree to it in writing, or
  • the treatment is considered to be in your interests (this will be decided by an independent psychiatrist appointed by the Review Tribunal (see “Reviews and appeals” in this chapter), or
  • you need emergency treatment and it is not possible to get your consent.

What happens if I refuse to have treatment?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, ss 40, 41, 122B

If you refuse to have treatment or to go to a place for treatment, reasonable force can be used to give the treatment or take you to the treatment place. If necessary, DAOs and responsible clinicians can ask the police to help. If force is used, this must be recorded, and a copy of the record must be sent to the Director of Area Mental Health Services.

If you are unhappy about the way you have been treated, you can make a complaint to:

  • a district inspector, and
  • if the police were involved, to the Independent Police Conduct Authority (see the chapter “Police powers”).

Can I be made to have electro-convulsive therapy or brain surgery under a compulsory treatment order?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, ss 60, 61

Special rules apply to the use of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). You cannot be required to undergo ECT unless:

  • having had the treatment explained, you consent to it in writing (consent can be withdrawn at any time), or
  • the treatment is considered to be in your interests by an independent psychiatrist (who is not the responsible clinician) appointed by the Review Tribunal (see “Reviews and appeals” in this chapter).

Brain surgery is rarely performed today. There are special requirements because this treatment is so intrusive and irreversible. You cannot be made to undergo brain surgery unless:

  • you have consented to it in writing (consent can be withdrawn at any time), and
  • the Review Tribunal (see “Reviews and appeals” in this chapter) has looked at the case and is satisfied that you gave the consent freely and understood the purpose and likely effect of the surgery, and
  • the surgery is considered to be in your best interests by:
    • your responsible clinician, and
    • an independent psychiatrist appointed by the Review Tribunal, who has consulted at least two other health professionals concerned with your care.

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 88

Note: Brain surgery for mental disorder must not be performed on a person who is under the age of 17 years.

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Mental health

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

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

Health and Disability Commissioner

www.hdc.org.nz/mental-health-addictions

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

www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support

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

Mental Health Foundation

www.mentalhealth.org.nz

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

www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines

1737 call or text to talk

www.1737.org.nz

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

www.health.govt.nz

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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