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Health & disability

The compulsory assessment process

Step 6: The second period of assessment and treatment

What are my rights during this second period of treatment?

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, s 13

As the patient, your rights during the second period of assessment and treatment are the same as during the first (see above in this section, “Step 4: The first period of assessment and treatment”). For example:

  • you do not have the right to refuse treatment, but you can apply to have your condition reviewed
  • the patient rights set out in the Mental Health Act apply (see in this chapter “Your rights as a mental health patient”)
  • you have the right to have access to a lawyer and all other relevant rights in the New Zealand Bill of Rights (see in this chapter “Your rights as a mental health patient”)
  • you have the right to seek a judicial inquiry to look at whether you are being illegally detained
  • you have a separate right to apply to a High Court judge for what’s called a “writ of habeas corpus” – this is a long-established type of legal action you can use if you believe the police or other officials are holding you illegally (see “‘Judicial inquiry’: Going to the High Court” in this chapter)
  • you can be given leave if you are being treated in hospital
  • you must be released from compulsory treatment if at any stage you are no longer considered to have a mental disorder.

What happens if I refuse treatment?

If you refuse to receive or attend treatment or leave hospital without permission, the responsible clinician can take steps to detain you (including asking the police for help).

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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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