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Second Annual Mental Health Report

18 October 2007

Office of the Director of Mental Health publishes second Annual Report

The Office of the Director of Mental Health has published its second Annual Report which includes data that aims to improve knowledge and understanding in the sector and ultimately lead to further improvements in patient care.

Director of Mental Health Dr David Chaplow says the Annual Report - a record of the work the office does - reflects the office's focus on transparency and accountability.

"Feedback from our first report indicated the sector was pleased to see the data published and being put to good use. We can say with more confidence this year the data is an accurate depiction of what is happening in the sector. We want to continue to build on this data to enable us to look at trends over time," he says.

For the first time the report includes seclusion statistics, opioid treatment services provided by alcohol and other drug services and annual data on the use of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).

"The annual report is a work in progress. The publication of seclusion statistics is perhaps the most important addition that has been made. The Ministry is working to reduce the use of seclusion in mental health services - a move that is happening worldwide - because of its potential for misuse and its intrusive nature. By publishing accurate statistics we expect to identify models of best practice around the country which others can learn from,'' Dr Chaplow says.

The report shows that between 1 October 2006 and 31 December 2006, 2374 patients spent time in a New Zealand adult mental health unit. Of these, 383 (16.1 per cent) were placed in seclusion for a period of time.

The report shows between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2006 a total of 224 people received ECT - a rate of 5 per 100,000 people. This represents a reduction from 2003/04 and 2004/05 when the rate was 7.5 per 100,000 people.

Dr Chaplow says variations in the use of ECT by DHBs is likely to be due to a range of factors.

"The age of the DHB's population is likely to be a factor as ECT is more commonly used to treat older people who may not be able to take anti-depressant medication because of their medical problems. Some DHBs have better access to ECT services than others and regions with smaller populations will be more vulnerable to annual variations.''

Also included in the report is some data on opioid treatment services. The statistics include waiting times for methadone treatment programmes in 2006.

Dr Chaplow says since then the Government has put more money into methadone treatment services in order to reduce waiting lists. Interim prescribing for those on the waiting lists has also been introduced to enable people to get earlier access to methadone. This enables early assessment and physical treatment while awaiting psychosocial interventions.

The report includes an invited academic commentary from lawyer Morag McDowell on habeas corpus in the mental health context.
The appendices also include flowcharts to clarify the legislative and clinical steps involved in reviewing patients, special patients and restricted patients.

During 2006 there were 107 deaths recorded, 29 of whom were subject the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, of which 11 were suspected suicides.


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