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New Mental Health Act coming into force this week

Glen Abernethy, the Minister of Health and Social Services (HSS)  announced today that the new Mental Health Act will be coming into force on September 1st.

“The new Mental Health Act’s primary focus is for circumstances in where a person with a mental health disorder has become a serious risk to themselves or others,” minister Abernethy says in a statement.

“It sets out processes that must be followed to treat, and where necessary prevent them from harming themselves or others. This new Act is only one piece of the overall service continuum for mental health and targets a very small population. To ensure that the mental health needs of all residents are being met, we are continuing work highlighted in the 2016 Mental Health and Addictions Strategic Framework.”

Some key elements of the act are centred around patient care and rights and will include the classification of two territorial health centres and two hospitals as “designated facilities” to support care and treatment of people with mental health disorders.

A Mental Health Act Review Board will also be created to establish review panels to hear people’s appeals for involuntary hospitalization. The act will also introduce a new function called Assisted Community Treatment, which  “allows families and communities to work with health and social services professionals to support a community member with a mental health disorder to live outside of a designated facility when supports are available.”

HSS says this new act is part of the department’s work to modernize mental health care in the territory and protect the rights, safety and wellbeing of individuals living with mental illness.
“The new legislation places a strong emphasis on individual rights, safety and person-centered treatment plans to ease the integration back to communities with support from family, professionals and community,” a press release from HSS states.
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