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Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

Repealing and replacing the Mental Health Act

Consultation is now open, closing 28 January 2022. Submit your views through the Ministry’s consultation hub.

The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 has not kept pace with the shift towards a recovery and wellbeing approach to care and has never been comprehensively reviewed.

He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction highlighted these issues. Since 2019, we have been working on immediate, short-term improvements under the current legislation. This includes releasing new guidelines to improve people’s experiences under the current Mental Health Act and making amendments to the Act to eliminate indefinite treatment orders, better protect people’s rights and improve safety.

We are now focusing on completely repealing and replacing the Mental Health Act and developing new mental health legislation for New Zealand. New legislation can support pae ora (healthy futures) by supporting self-determination and enhancing mana, encouraging whānau involvement, and strengthening recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Although the Mental Health Act is only used for a small proportion of people each year, it has significant impact on the lives of those who do experience it, and their family and whānau. 

We have heard why change is needed, and the next step is to get clear direction for what new mental health legislation in New Zealand should look like.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please email [email protected].

About the public consultation

This discussion document contains information you may need to answer the questions on the Ministry’s consultation hub

Consultation is open until 28 January 2022. You are welcome to give feedback on the whole discussion document or just the parts you are most interested in or affected by. 

You might have other views and concerns that we have not captured, and we encourage you to tell us about these. 

You can provide feedback by:

  • making an online submission at
  • answering the questions in the consultation document and emailing your responses to [email protected]
  • answering the questions in the consultation document and sending a hard copy to:
    • Consultation: Transforming mental health law in Aotearoa New Zealand
      Ministry of Health
      PO Box 5013
      Wellington 6140

There is a lot of complex information to be considered in the discussion document, and we are holding a series of online hui and meetings to help explain the different topics:

Information sessions

To support and explain the consultation and overview of the information in the discussion document, we will be holding a series of online hui and meetings. These are an overview of the consultation and an opportunity to ask questions – they are not intended to be a formal consultation meeting.

More dates will be added, including consultation hui, so subscribe to the Mental Health and Addiction Directorate newsletter to keep up to date.

Navigating the discussion document

The discussion document has been divided into nine parts. Parts One and Two give background information about the current Mental Health Act, reasons for repealing and replacing it, and how new legislation fits into mental health and addiction services.

Parts Three to Nine each focus on specific topics for discussion. The topics covered are: 

  • Part 3 – embedding Te Tiriti and addressing Māori cultural needs
  • Part 4 – defining the purpose of mental health legislation, including considering a human rights approach and whether compulsory mental health treatment should ever be allowed
  • Part 5 – defining why, when and how compulsory mental health treatment, if permitted, might be appropriate
  • Part 6 – making sure people are able to use appropriate tools to support them to make decisions about their care and treatment
  • Part 7 – considering the use, or prohibition, of seclusion, restraint, or other restrictive practices
  • Part 8 – addressing the needs of specific populations: people from different cultures, family and whānau, children and youth, disabled people, and people from the justice system
  • Part 9 – ensuring people’s rights are protected and monitored.

Why it’s important to share your views

We can create new mental health legislation that respects the rights of individuals, family and whānau, recognises Te Tiriti o Waitangi and improves equity. 

The legislation should be a last resort for people in a vulnerable and distressed state. The care and treatment provided through legislation should be delivered in a way that recognises a person’s strengths, and new legislation should promote the safety of people, whānau and communities.

There are many things to consider, and we need your help in shaping the future of mental health legislation in New Zealand.