Have your say and change the Mental Health Act

21 January 2022

The Mental Health Act is being repealed and replaced. Influencing change is a part of our strategy and you can join us in this process.

The Mental Health Act is being repealed and replaced. The MH Act has not kept pace with the shift towards a recovery and wellbeing approach to care, and has never been comprehensively reviewed.

nfluencing changes to the Act is a major focus within the Nōku te Ao Like Minds 2021 – 2026 strategy.  

We see this legislation change as an opportunity for Nōku te Ao Like Minds to contribute to ending prejudice and discrimination against people with experience of mental distress.

We intend to lead with, and elevate the voice of, lived experience, to work as a collective and aim to make equitable transformative change for those people with lived experience who are currently most affected by the Act, including Māori, and Pasifika communities.

The current Act means people are subjected to compulsory treatment against their will. This compulsory treatment includes seclusion, restraint, coercive power over people, and substituted decision making.  Māori were 2.9 times more likely to be subject to indefinite community treatment orders than non-Māori, and 2.7 times more likely to be subject to indefinite inpatient treatment orders than non-Māori.[1] There is a clear mandate for putting human rights at the centre of any new Act.

Nōku te Ao Like Minds is currently developing a position statement on the legislation. This position statement will result in agreed calls to action, targeted activities, and clear tangible outcomes for transformative change. The idea is for the statement to be clear about what outcomes to stop discrimination we want in the legislation, and to be a springboard for further work on the long process to change the law. This includes working collectively and collaboratively, in key communities, in education, in building a social movement, campaign development, and working with other government agencies. We are building collective power to increase our impact for change.

The Ministry of Health want to hear from people by the end of January 2022 on a discussion document they have released about changing the Mental Health Act. We are looking forward to working hard to bring people together to end the discrimination caused by our mental health law.

For more information on the repeal and replacement of the Mental Health Act click here

[1] Office of the Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services Annual Report 2018 and 2019 https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/office-director-mental-health-and-addiction-services-annual-report-2018-and-2019