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Mental Health Com supports Rights Action Plan

Mental Health Commission supports Human Rights Action Plan

The Mental Health Commission congratulates the Human Rights Commission for its stand on improving the human rights of New Zealanders, including those with mental illness, in its Action Plan.

Mental Health Commissioner Mary O’Hagan said she is especially pleased that the Human Rights Commission has recognised two critical human rights issues in mental health clinical practice – the use of seclusion and compulsory treatment.

“We are very pleased that seclusion and compulsory treatment are now on the human rights agenda. Compulsory treatment overrides the rights of people using mental health services to refuse treatment, to make an informed choice and to give informed consent.”

Ms O’Hagan said the Mental Health Commission endorses the overarching goal in the Human Rights National Plan of Action, that people who use mental health services are safe and their human rights are respected.

“We support the formal recognition of advance directives to enable people to make decisions about their treatment before they become unwell.

“We also agree with the need to clarify human rights issues around the use of seclusion. We need to ensure that locking a person in a room on their own is acknowledged as seclusion. As part of the focus on seclusion DHBs need to report the extent of their use of seclusion.”

The Action Plan says that the concept of a person’s capacity to make decisions about their own treatment should be explored as an additional criterion when deciding if compulsory interventions are necessary.

It also lists as a priority an investigation into the effectiveness of legal protections for service users under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 and the length of Community Treatment Orders. Both these issues are of concern to the Mental Health Commission.

“People with mental illness are still discriminated against. Excellent progress has been made by the government and private sector to help break down the barriers that prevent people with mental illness enjoying the full benefits of being a New Zealander, but more is needed to promote their rights in mental health services,” said Ms O’Hagan.


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