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The compulsory assessment process

Step 2: The assessment examination

What happens after an application is made to have someone assessed?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 9

After an application has been made to have you assessed, the DAMHS or a DAO must arrange an assessment examination. The purpose of this assessment is to find out if you (the proposed patient) have a mental disorder. Usually you will be assessed by a psychiatrist, but the assessment can be done by a doctor or a nurse if the DAMHS thinks they’re suitably qualified.

What information am I (the proposed patient) given about the assessment examination?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 9

Before the assessment, you must:

  • be told when and where the examination will be
  • be given a written notice telling you that you must attend the examination and what the examination is for
  • be told the name of the person who will examine you.

The DAMHS or DAO must make sure this information is explained to you in the presence of a member of your family, or a caregiver or support person, and also make sure that person can get to the examination.

Do I have to go to the assessment examination?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 110C

Yes. As a proposed patient, you do not have the right to refuse to go to the assessment. If you refuse, the DAO can ask the police to take you to the assessment and hold you there for up to six hours while you are examined.

How long do I have to wait for an assessment examination?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 9

The DAMHS or DAO must arrange an assessment examination as soon as possible after the application for assessment has been made. It should happen on the day the application is made, usually within a couple of hours.

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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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