Mental Health Act Amendment Bill passes third reading


The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment Bill has passed its third reading, an important step to ensure patient safety until the whole Act can be replaced, Health Minister Andrew Little says.

“Today’s amendments eliminate indefinite treatment orders, which have been criticised as a serious breach of human rights,” Health Minister Andrew Little said.

“They also allow family members of patients to attend meetings audio-visually and ensure ‘special patients’ experiencing severe mental illness are safer when being transported.

“This is to make sure New Zealanders get the mental health support they need, when and where they need it,” Andrew Little said.

“The Mental Health Act has been widely criticised for being out of step with Te Tiriti o Waitangi and New Zealand’s other domestic and international human rights commitments.

“This is a significant step by this Government in delivering on its commitment to improve the legislation around mental health as recommended by He Ara Oranga – the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.

“This is part of a huge transformation of the mental health and addiction system which the Government has backed up with meaningful investment. Today’s amendments are another step towards ensuring people who experience mental illness and distress are better supported, Andrew Little said.

The Government’s commitment to ensuring mental health legislation in Aotearoa New Zealand supports a mental wellbeing approach is set out in the recently released Kia Manawanui Aotearoa: Long-term pathway to mental wellbeing.

Last week public consultation opened for the full repeal and replacement of the Mental Health Act.


Note for editors:

The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment Bill amends the

Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 by:

  • Eliminating indefinite treatment orders
  • minimising the risk of harm to the patient or the public when transporting forensic patients who are ‘special patients’ as defined under the Mental Health Act
  • addressing technical drafting issues that will improve the administrative efficiency of the Act
  • removing the sunset date for technical amendments and audio visual link amendments made by the COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Act 2020.
  • *The Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 allows courts to find someone being charged with a crime either not guilty by reason of insanity, or unfit to stand trial. These people then become ‘special patients’ under the Mental Health Act and receive mental health treatment in a secure environment.

More information on the consultation to repeal and replace the Mental Health Act can be found here.

Recent Government mental health and wellbeing announcements: