Transforming our Mental Health Law – a public discussion document

Published online: 
22 October 2021

Repealing and replacing the Mental Health Act

Public consultation opened in October 2021 and closed in January 2022 – thank you to everyone who made a submission.

All submissions received were reviewed by an external independent research company and a thematic analysis of all the submissions has been published. More information can be found on the outcomes of the public consultation and the analysis of all submissions at:

Background to the public consultation

The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 has not kept pace with the shift towards a recovery and wellbeing approach to care and has never been comprehensively reviewed.

He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction highlighted these issues. Since 2019, we have worked on immediate, short-term improvements under the current legislation. This includes releasing new guidelines to improve people’s experiences under the current Mental Health Act and making amendments to the Act to eliminate indefinite treatment orders, better protect people’s rights and improve safety.

Work on the full repeal and replacement of the Mental Health Act began with public consultation. We want new legislation to support pae ora (healthy futures) by supporting self-determination and enhancing mana, encouraging whānau involvement, and strengthening recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We want this vision for new mental health legislation to be guided by New Zealanders. To support public consultation, the discussion document asked New Zealanders what they wanted new mental health legislation to look like in New Zealand.

Navigating the discussion document

The discussion document has been divided into nine parts. Parts One and Two give background information about the current Mental Health Act, reasons for repealing and replacing it, and how new legislation fits into mental health and addiction services.

Parts Three to Nine each focus on specific topics for discussion. The topics covered are:

  • Part 3 - embedding Te Tiriti and addressing Māori cultural needs
  • Part 4 - defining the purpose of mental health legislation, including considering a human rights approach and whether compulsory mental health treatment should ever be allowed
  • Part 5 - defining why, when and how compulsory mental health treatment, if permitted, might be appropriate
  • Part 6 - making sure people are able to use appropriate tools to support them to make decisions about their care and treatment
  • Part 7 - considering the use, or prohibition, of seclusion, restraint, or other restrictive practices
  • Part 8 - addressing the needs of specific populations: people from different cultures, family and whānau, children and youth, disabled people, and people from the justice system
  • Part 9 - ensuring people’s rights are protected and monitored.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    22 October 2021
  • ISBN:
  • HP number:
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:

    Owned by the Ministry of Health and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

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