Modern Mental Health Legislation

Most developed countries have now defined specific written mental health legislation, usually referred to as Statutes or Acts that specifically cover the laws for assessment and treatment of mentally ill people.

These pieces of legislation often also attempt to delineate between behaviours attributable to mental illnesses and other behaviours which are outside of societal norms.

In 1996 the World Health Organization after reviewing the mental health legislation of 45 countries provided ten basic principles for Mental Health Care Law. Wherever you work in Australia or other parts of the world you will recognise many of these principles in the mental health legislation covering your jurisdiction. Whilst the "legalese" may differ the principles remain similar.

  1. Promotion of Mental Health and Prevention of Mental Disorders
  2. Access to Basic Mental Health Care
  3. Mental Health Assessments in Accordance with Internationally Accepted Principles
  4. Provision of the Least Restrictive Type of Mental Health Care
  5. Self-Determination
  6. Right to be Assisted in the Exercise of Self-Determination
  7. Availability of Review Procedure
  8. Automatic Periodical Review Mechanism
  9. Qualified Decision-Maker
  10. Respect of the Rule of Law