Mental health law concerns, contradictions and reality.
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Background: In November 2015, a new Western Australian Mental Health Act (MHA2014) replaced the previous Mental Health Act (1996). The MHA2014 is a comprehensive and detailed piece of legislation predicated on expanding consumer's rights, carer and family involvement, and patient's wishes. It also increases accountability for clinicians when performing duties under the MHA 2014. As the MHA 2014 extends legal duties substantially, there is concern regarding the ability of clinicians to comply with the new expectations under the legislation. Purpose: This study identifies five major compliance issues in the MHA2014, such as notifying carers, recording physical restraint, and reporting on unlawful sexual contact. The views of a group of mental health nurses were sought in May 2015 with regard to concerns, contradictions and strategies before the MHA 2014 commenced, and then again in May 2016, 6 months after commencement, to note whether those concerns and contradictions have become reality. The pre and post-commencement structure of the study allows exploration of whether the concerns clinicians had about compliance were realistic or whether compliance was not as problematic as envisaged. Participants completed a survey to identify what their main clinical concerns were prior to implementation. The results of that first study were presented at the ACMHN Conference in 2015. This presentation will include the post-commencement data obtained 6 months after implementation. In addition to providing an overview of both parts of the study this presentation will present some general conclusions about the clinical impact of new legislation, bearing in mind that almost every State and Territory in Australia is implementing new mental health legislation.
Presentation at ACMHN's 42nd International Mental Health Nursing Conference: Nurses striving to tackle disparity in health care, 25 – 27 October 2016, Adelaide Convention Centre.
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