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Compulsory Treatment Orders

When a compulsory treatment order ends

How long does a compulsory treatment order last?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, ss 33–35

Compulsory Treatment Orders (both community and inpatient orders) last for up to six months. They can end earlier, or they can be extended for a further six months. After that, an order can be extended indefinitely.

When can Compulsory Treatment Orders end earlier?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 35

A compulsory treatment order can end earlier if, at any time during the six months, your responsible clinician, or the Review Tribunal (see “Reviews and appeals” in this chapter), decides that you are fit to be released from compulsory status. If this happens, the compulsory treatment order stops immediately and you can no longer be made to receive treatment under the Mental Health Act.

When can a compulsory treatment order be extended?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 34

A compulsory treatment order can be extended if, at the end of the six months, you are still not fit to be released from compulsory status. In the last 14 days of the six months, the responsible clinician must review your case and decide whether or not you are fit to be released. If you are not fit to be released, the responsible clinician can apply to the Family Court to have the compulsory treatment order extended for a further six months. There will be another hearing, and the judge will decide whether the order should end or be extended.

The judge can only extend the compulsory treatment order if:

  • you still have a mental disorder, and
  • the order is still necessary. In other words, without the order it is likely that you will not continue with your treatment and without the treatment you will become mentally disordered.

What happens if a compulsory treatment order is extended?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 76

If a compulsory treatment order is extended for a second six-month period, the order becomes indefinite. This does not mean the order will last forever. The order must be reviewed regularly. These are called clinical reviews. They are undertaken by the responsible clinician and must take place three months after the compulsory treatment order is made and then every six months.

Before a clinical review, the responsible clinician will send you a notice telling you when and where the review will take place. You must attend the review. If you refuse, a DAO can ask the police for help. At the review, the responsible clinician will talk to you and to the health professionals involved with your care.

What happens after a clinical review?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 76

The responsible clinician must issue a certificate of clinical review saying whether or not you are fit to be released from compulsory status.

If the responsible clinician thinks that you are fit to be released, the compulsory treatment order will end immediately, and you will not have to accept any more treatment. If you have been treated in hospital, you will be free to leave.

If the responsible clinician thinks the that you are not fit to be released, you must be sent a copy of the certificate and a statement explaining the legal consequences of the certificate. These are that:

  • the compulsory treatment order will continue, and
  • you have a right to apply to the Review Tribunal for a review of this decision (see “Reviews and appeals” in this chapter).

A copy of the certificate and the statement must also be sent to:

  • your principal caregiver (if you have one)
  • your usual GP or nurse
  • your welfare guardian (if you have one)
  • a district inspector and official visitor.

These people also have a right to apply for a review of the decision that you are not fit to be released from compulsory status.

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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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