September 15, 2022

Repealing and Replacing the Mental Health Act: Analysis of Public Consultation Submissions

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In its response to He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, the Government agreed to the recommendation to repeal and replace the Mental Health Act so that it reflects a human rights-based approach, promotes supported decision-making, aligns with the recovery and wellbeing model of mental health, and provides measures to minimise compulsory or coercive treatment.

The Ministry of Health conducted public consultation between October 2021 to January 2022, on the repeal and replacement of the Mental Health Act to inform the development of policy proposals for new legislation. The outcome of public consultation included 317 written submissions and more than 500 people attended approximately 60 online consultation information and hui sessions.

While the aim of the consultation was to focus on the repeal and replacement of the Mental Health Act, most submissions and comments from the consultation hui raised issues, concerns and suggestions that more widely underpinned arguments why the repeal and replacement of the Act is important. Not all these issues are able to be addressed through legislation, however, these perspectives provide context for the repeal and replacement of the Mental Health Act and to provide foundational insights to inform the development of any legislation.

Responses focused on:

·Misuse of the Mental Health Act
·How acute inpatient environments can exacerbate someone’s distress.
·The need for a paradigm shift to shift from an acute and crisis response to a focus on prevention, and the provision of early engagement with comprehensive services
·The need to embed Te Tiriti within new mental health legislation.
·That the wellbeing of tāngata whaiora and their whānau can only be achieved by devolving service provision to Iwi, hapū, Māori community based service providers and kaupapa Māori services.
·Family and whānau were described as essential to the wellbeing of tāngata whaiora.

The issues and recommendations are presented here to inform the ongoing work to transform the mental health and addiction system, including the development of the Mental Health and Addiction System and Service Framework.

Commonly raised feedback encompassed the need to:
•improve support for family, whānau and significant others;
•develop and increase the peer and cultural support workforce;
•invest in workforce leadership, development, and training;
•grow the Māori mental health workforce, and the workforce in general to meet need;
•address racist and discriminatory practice;
•establish effective monitoring and accountability;
•establish effective debriefing processes for post-compulsory treatment planning and care; and,
•significantly improve care and treatment environments

Please follow this link to view the report in full.