Families Must Be Consulted Under New Mental Health Legislation

  • Bill English

Consultation with families would be a requirement under mental health legislation now being considered by Parliament, Health Minister Bill English said today at the opening of the Schizophrenia Fellowship's Clubhouse in Dunedin.

"Groups such as the Fellowship and families of people with a mental illness have felt for many years that families have not been properly included in decisions. They have felt left out.

"The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment Bill means a patient's family or whanau must be consulted as part of the assessment and treatment process. The only exceptions will be where it is not practicable or where the patient declines to give consent.

"This legislation is part of a comprehensive approach to laying out a future vision, up-grading the services, and improving the treatment for people with a mental illness.

"The provision of information to families and family groups is a positive step for patients and those they are close to. It is a key part of patients' treatment and is equally important for the people dealing with the results of their family member's behaviour.

"The other key provisions in the Bill are additional powers for compulsory assessment and treatment of proposed patients, and the right for victims to be notified of the release or escape of people detained in mental health services," said Mr English.

The Bill had its second reading recently and has been referred to the Health Select Committee.