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First Report of Director of Mental Health

MEDIA RELEASE (EMBARGOED UNTIL 12 NOON, WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 29)

29 November 2006

First Annual Report of the Office of the Director of Mental Health released


The first annual report by the Office of the Director of Mental Health has been released today by the Ministry of Health.

The publication provides a record of the work the office does and reports on some of the activities of District Inspectors of Mental Health and the Mental Health Review Tribunal. It is part of the office's accountability to the sector and will be of significant interest to many people, including mental health service users and their families, those who work in the sector, and advocacy groups. It will also contribute to improved standards of care and treatment for people with a mental illness.

"We are proud of this work and believe it is an enormous achievement. The report reflects the importance we place on transparency and accountability to the sector and the wider public. We hope to build on this information in subsequent reports and include trend data," says Dr David Chaplow, Director of Mental Health and Chief Advisor Mental Health.

The report is divided into three sections. The first section looks at how the office operates and the legislation it is guided by. The second section describes the work carried out by the office in 2005 and the third section provides information on the use of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, electroconvulsive therapy treatments and deaths of people subject to the Act. An appendix provides historical background on compulsory treatment in New Zealand.

For the first time raw data on the use of compulsory treatment is being published. It shows marked variations between district health boards.The data has not been analysed and the differences could be due to a range of reasons, such as the differences in the nature of their populations, service coverage or clinical practice.

Information on the numbers and outcomes of Special and Restricted-Patient's leave and change of legal status applications considered by the Health Minister are also included.

"We have not captured all the data we would like, for example statistics on the use of force, serious adverse incidents and seclusion are not included because the earlier data is not reliable enough,'' Dr Chaplow says.

" However, District Health Boards now have more robust reporting procedures in place and as a result we expect to be able to include trend data in future annual reports.''

The report also includes research looking at the outcomes for Special Patients found not guilty of a crime, by reason of insanity, over the last three decades. The work followed an indication by the Law Commission that it intended to review section 23 of the Crimes Act 1961, which relates to insanity.

"Our research found that following discharge in to the community, people acquitted on the grounds of insanity are reconvicted of violent crimes at a very low rate, although readmission to hospital is more common,'' Dr Chaplow says.

During 2005 there were 23 deaths recorded for people subject to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, of which six were suspected suicides.

ENDS

For a copy of the report go to: http://www.moh.govt.nz/publicationsbydate

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