Speaking out on mental health

Speaking out on mental health

We always talk about union members having a say about the way they work and how that affects their clients and communities, but what does that look like in practice?

For PSA members Allan Franks and Andy Colwell it was a chance to let the health select committee know their views on the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment Bill.

Both members work in the mental health sector, Allan as Kaiatawhai at Te Whetu Tawera ADHB’s Inpatient Mental Health Facility for Adults and Andy for Auckland DHB as a clinical coordinator in the Community Acute Service (crisis team).

The submission focused on the need for kaumātua or a cultural team to be available while people in distress are being assessed, how and when to safely move clients from one place to another, and an end to indefinite orders.


Allan Franks says it was moving to advocate for Tangata Whaiora to have a more user-friendly Mental Health Act.

“I feel our combined kōrero had a positive effect with the health select committee.”

It was the first time Andy Colwell had been involved in an oral submission to a select committee. 

 “It seemed to go well and I was pleased to get a couple of questions from the select committee,” Andy says.

“It was great having the support of the PSA policy team to assist in getting the main points of our submission across.”


Andy says if the changes the PSA is seeking are made Allied Health clinicians will be able to carry out initial assessments under the Mental Health Act.

It may also result in fit for purpose facilities in emergency departments for assessments, which would result in a smoother, safer process for workers and people being assessed under the Mental Health Act.

Incorporating cultural considerations within the Act will enhance the rights of people accessing services and their whānau.

This, in turn, will potentially provide a less distressing and less volatile process for clients, whānau and the workforce. 

Photo caption: Andy Colwell appearing before the health select committee





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