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Debate on compulsory treatment welcomed

Human Rights Commission
Media release
6 March 2006

Debate on compulsory treatment for mentally ill welcomed

Discussion about the most effective support and treatment to provide for people with mental illness is vital to ensuring that their human rights are respected, said Human Rights Chief Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan.

Ms Noonan welcomed the release today of No-Force Advocacy by Users and Survivors of Psychiatry by the Mental Health Commission and authored by American human rights lawyer Tina Minkowitz.

“The publication raises a number of important questions that can inform discussions about improving the medical and legal systems to better meet the needs of mental health patients.

“The sooner we can have a robust debate around these issues, the sooner we’ll be able to deliver a system that respects the fundamental rights of people with mental illness,” she said.

The Human Rights Commission believes that the views of all people affected by mental illness should be heard, including those with a mental illness, their family, friends and colleagues.

The treatment of people with mental illness was raised in the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights, released by the Human Rights Commission in March 2005.

“We know that many people with mental illness are compulsorily detained for lengthy periods in conditions where they have limited freedom of movement and are isolated from others.

“Compulsory treatment often goes hand in hand with compulsory detention,” said Ms Noonan.

The Human Rights Commission is currently working in partnership with the Mental Health Commission and the Health and Disability Commission to improve the complaints processes that are available to people with mental illness.

The Human Rights Commission is also working with other agencies to review the practice of restraint and seclusion of people with mental illness.

ENDS

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