INDEPENDENT NEWS

Mental Health Services Come A Long Way

Published: Fri 15 Oct 1999 10:46 AM
Health Minister Wyatt Creech today applauded the advances in treatment and care for those with serious mental illness.
The Minister was opening of new Forensic Psychiatry units at the Mason Clinic in Auckland.
"The days of locking up those with mental illness in large institutions and throwing away the key are over," Health Minister Wyatt Creech said today.
"The opening of the units is very timely, just days after a very successful Mental Health Awareness Week, and days after the Government passed new Mental Health legislation.
"It signals a fresh start to services provided for some of our people with the most serious mental illnesses replacing those at the National Secure Unit – Wai O Hine which closes at the end of the month.
"Clinical and treatment approaches have changed dramatically since 40 years ago when we decided as a country to establish a national high dependence security facility for patients with mental health illnesses.
"Our forensic services have an international reputation – that is a credit to all those involved in making the services work well for those who need them.
"We made further steps forward just a week ago with the passing of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment Treatment) Amendment Bill.
"It gives greater recognition to the rights of families of victims of serious crimes where they are committed by individuals with serious mental illness.
"It allows for greater family and whanau involvement in assessing and treating patients, for anyone concerned about a person's mental health to request an assessment (rather than restricting this to caregivers as at present) and also gives responbile clinicians more flexibility in treating people in the community or in hospital.
"We always knew that the original Act would need some fine-tuning because it was such ground-breaking legislation. We will continue to monitor the way it works as part of our commitment to better mental health for New Zealanders."
The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment Treatment) Amendment Bill, means victims and their families will be notified of significant changes in the treatment or status of the psychiatric patient receiving compulsory care as a result of the crime.
"In practice it will mean that victims and families will be notified when patients escape, are about to be discharged or have long leave granted (months rather than weeks)."
ENDS

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