Providing legal representation to psychiatric patients under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 (MHA 1992): The experiences and perspectives of mental health lawyers who represent clients under the MHA 1992

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dc.contributor.advisor Prebble, K en
dc.contributor.advisor Thom, K en
dc.contributor.author Thakkar, Anshita en
dc.date.accessioned 2017-07-24T02:21:26Z en
dc.date.issued 2017 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34450 en
dc.description.abstract This thesis examines the role of the lawyers who represent clients under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992. It focuses on their experiences and perspectives during the preparation and advocacy stages of mental health hearing and review processes. The study draws on data collected through semi-structured interviews with a small sample of Auckland and Waikato mental health lawyers (n = 11), and provides qualitative descriptions of how this role is executed in practice. The findings contribute to the limited existing research-based literature describing this role, as well as to understanding the barriers and enablers faced by lawyers in providing advocacy to patients in the mental health law context. The study found that the mental health lawyer has a broader role than just protecting patients’ rights. This role fulfils legal and some health and social functions, all of which were considered by the participants as important to effective legal representation. The participants protect their clients’ rights to liberty by ensuring the accuracy of evidence presented by health professionals to justify compulsory treatment. In most situations, however, because their clients are acutely unwell, participants empower them in self-determination about their health and wellbeing and promote their leave, medication and treatment preferences to clinical and legal decisionmakers. Participants’ facilitation of their clients’ contribution to their health-care and compulsory status decisions, at times, enabled clients to experience fairer hearings and advance their therapeutic goals. The study also found that participants experienced barriers to providing effective legal representation. Barriers included: limited ability to advocate for clients’ health and social concerns, dependence on health professionals’ interpretation of clients’ mental health, communication difficulties with clients, inadequate training about psychiatric conditions, and health-dominated decision-making in legal processes. The thesis argues that these challenges might restrict the benefits of legal representation and perpetuate “bestinterest” lawyering that favours clinical opinion over clients’ circumstances and choices. This thesis illustrates how the mental health lawyer can achieve accurate, fair and therapeutic outcomes for their clients in practice and identifies the factors which can limit this role from fulfilling its potential. These findings have significant implications for practising lawyers and the protection and promotion of mental health patients’ rights. en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof Masters Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA99264940914102091 en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.title Providing legal representation to psychiatric patients under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 (MHA 1992): The experiences and perspectives of mental health lawyers who represent clients under the MHA 1992 en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.discipline Health Sciences en
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Masters en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
dc.rights.accessrights http://purl.org/eprint/accessRights/OpenAccess en
pubs.elements-id 639158 en
pubs.org-id Academic Services en
pubs.org-id Examinations en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2017-07-24 en


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