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Learning and development needs for the revised Guidelines to the Mental Health Act: Survey results October 2021

The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 (the Act)1 provides a legal framework for compulsory psychiatric assessment and treatment. The Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, He Ara Oranga (2018) highlights that the current Act embeds archaic and risk-averse attitudes resulting in loss of human rights. Significantly, the Act does not require an assessment of mental capacity. This means that people’s wishes can be overridden based on an assessment of predicted ‘risk’ or ‘dangerousness’. Use of the Act has been described as a breach of fundamental human rights (Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, 2018).

The Ministry of Health published the revised Guidelines to the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 (the Guidelines) in September 2020. The Guidelines aim to support the effective and lawful use of the Act and clarify the responsibilities of services and clinicians in applying the Act in a way that best promotes people’s rights (Ministry of Health, 2020).

It is one year since the publication of the revised Guidelines. It is now timely to assess learning and development needs to inform relevant workforce development initiatives that will support the rights of people accessing services.

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