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Guidelines to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992

Workforce development initiatives


The revised Guidelines to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 (the Act) were published by the Ministry of Health in September 2020. The purpose of the Guidelines is to clarify the responsibilities of mental health services and clinicians and to offer guidance on how the sections of the Act can be applied to promote the protection of people’s rights.

Key changes and emerging issues highlighted in the revised Guidelines include:

  • the growing influence of rights-based approaches, and how such an approach can be better promoted within the parameters of the current Act
  • the need to give greater emphasis to our obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • the impact of He Ara Oranga and, in particular, the feedback from people with lived experience and families and whānau on how they experience the current administration of the Act.

He Ara Oranga indicated a need for a more human rights-based approach, supported decision making, emphasis on a recovery and wellbeing approach to mental health, and minimising the use of compulsory and coercive treatment.

The recent publication of the revised Guidelines provides a timely opportunity to identify workforce development initiatives that will support good practice in the use of the Act and promote awareness and understanding about people’s rights.

Aims and objectives

This initiative aims to support the training and implementation of the revised Guidelines to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992. The key objectives are as follows.

  • Promote greater nationally consistent approaches to workforce development. This includes the training of responsible clinicians, duly authorised officers (DAOs), and district inspectors (DIs), and working with the directors of area mental health services (DAMHS), DHB training coordinators, and general managers to implement a plan to address workforce needs.

  • Provide the mental health workforce with an up-to-date understanding of the revised Guidelines and good practice in the use of the Act. This will include developing e-learning and other learning resources.

  • Strengthen workforce values and attitudes. These are to be grounded in people-centred, human rights, least restrictive, trauma informed, and equity approaches around the use of the Act, including upholding the obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, by developing e-learning and other learning resources.

  • Build knowledge and understanding of the Act and personal rights among people and whānau. This will include developing simple and easily accessible resources for people and their whānau.

Pivotal touchstones and considerations:

Co-production approach

A co-production approach will be key to guiding the development of initiatives and resources to ensure the outcomes reflect the voices and needs of people accessing services and sector stakeholders. Resources will be developed through a systematic consultation with key stakeholders using surveys, interviews, huis and focus groups or workshops.


The project has three key audiences who will benefit from workforce training and/or learning resources about the revised Guidelines:

  • DAMHS (who are responsible for the implementation of the Act and the appointment of training of responsible clinicians, DAOs, and DIs in their area) and other key training roles
  • other workforce roles involved in supporting people under the Act
  • people accessing services and their whānau.


The project began in June 2021. The new training resources will be launched in January 2023.

Key contacts


Caro Swanson



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