Te Awamutu Courier

Reform an important step.


“At the very least the most basic thing that a mental health system can do is not cause more harm.”

Those were the words of MP Chlo¨ e Swarbrick last week regarding the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment Bill during its first reading in Parliament. While garnering little attention, it is a critical piece of legislatio­n.

This long-named piece centres on protecting the rights of those most struggling with their mental health. Under these changes, those significan­tly distressed and receiving Compulsory Treatment Orders (a court order forcing treatment), it ends the potentiall­y indefinite­ly medication and detainment against one’s will.

Valuably, the Bill also allows for more family involvemen­t and hearings via audiovisua­l link among other tweaks to the Mental Health Act.

This may sound rational and bureaucrat­ic, but it’s deeply important to ensure the rights of the roughly ten thousand people each year receiving these orders and their families. Critically, it comes after successive reports and evidence of our mental health system violating rights reflected by various incidents across the nation. While improvemen­ts are slowly occurring, this is a genuine and meaningful step towards building confidence and limiting further failures of our mental health system, something many of us have experience­d or observed.

With the Bills transition onto the Health Select Committee between now and May 19 you can give feedback on changes, demand further action, or scrutinise any vagueness in the legislatio­n.

For more informatio­n check out the Get Involved section at Parliament.nz Dan Armstrong

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