So given your knowledge of acute mental health services is there any precedent/official advice with regard to my question above?
Anyone can ask the police to do a welfare check on someone - that is not part of the mental health act and cannot in itself result in some one being admitted or placed under the act.
The ability of the police to uplift someone from their home under the act is tightly constrained. It has to be done with the involvement of mental health professionals who must examine the person first.
There has to be good cause to believe that a person has a mental disorder before the mental health act is activated and the police can then be asked to assist, if necessary, in transporting the person to a place for assessment.
Neil sorry there appears to be some glitch in the site today, to be clear this was the question:
Then, apparently, she rings someone in the National Party who in turn rings Ross’ psychiatrist
Noting that elements of your version correspond closely with testimony from all sources to date – in your position as a mental health expert – with regard to Fisher’s depiction of “The urgency of the situation”, would there be any scenario where it might be recommended procedure to initially contact work colleagues when presented with immediate threats to a patient’s wellbeing or is contacting mental health services/police directly always the best course of action?
I note that health.govt.nz (pdf) states:
If they need urgent help
If someone has attempted suicide or you’re worried about their immediate safety, do the following.
• Call your local mental health crisis assessment team or go with them to the emergency department (ED) at your nearest hospital.
• If they are an immediate physical danger to themselves or others, call 111.
• Remain with them and help them to stay safe until support arrives.
• Try to stay calm and let them know you care.
• Keep them talking: listen and ask questions without judging.
Hi Mark, I work in the field but wouldn’t call myself an expert necessarily.
It depends on the content of the txt the female MP received. If it said I’m going to kill myself now then the best course of action would be to ring the police immediately.
But we don’t know the content of the txt. We do know however that Ross came to no harm and was assessed with some alacrity at a mental health unit which is good evidence the actions taken by the MP were appropriate to the level of concern raised by the txt.
Informing Ross’ psychologist so they could take action was a sensible thing to do.
It would be informative to know the content of the txt and if Slater was present when it was sent. Given that the following day, when he had been admitted, Ross released a private txt to try to damage the reputation of the very woman he had reached out to supposedly for help, one has to wonder what his motive for the txt really was.
We do know however that Ross came to no harm
Thank you Neil, though I’d generally favour leaving an assessment of harm to qualified medical health professionals on hand and/or the patient themselves.
The reason I asked is that we’ve heard *a lot* about respecting Jami-Lee Ross’s privacy over the last week so I’m trying to establish whether a patient actually has any right of privacy at all in these types of circumstances or whether the protections are so toothless that a member of the public - on encountering an individual so distressed that further action is required - might be fully entitled to contact whoever they wish in lieu of the emergency services suggested above, which may include informing a political party, regardless of whether there might be a clearly established conflict of interest in terms of them receiving this type of sensitive information. Would it be correct to surmise that no such protections exist?
I.e., can a random member of the public, who has been freely given private information by the individual concerned, in the absence of any explicit confidentiality conditions (*), be subject to laws preventing dissemination of private information? Probably not – because the member of the public would then have no statutory duty of stewardship of that information. The presumption is that the individual waived privacy for that information by voluntarily sharing it outside a protected domain. Which is admittedly problematic if that individual’s judgement was impaired at the time.
(* As distinct from information held about individuals under conditions of client confidentiality, e.g. in legal or medical domains; and also as distinct from private information unlawfully obtained.)
a random member
Though I assume the answers would likely be the same – this wasn’t my emphasis. I was thinking more along the lines of the road code – how in the case of a crash which involved injury or even without injury in some cases – reporting the incident to the police is mandatory or face a $5000 fine.
Whereas what we see here in the alleged instance of a potential harm is that people are entitled to contact "whoever they wish in lieu of the emergency services" – i.e not contact emergency services at all.
I used ‘member of the public’ as opposed to ‘Member of Parliament’ to speculate on how this type of situation might pan out in the private sector, not a random member of the public but a colleague of the patient.
i.e. if two people are working for e.g. a corporation whose leadership had just that week gone against medical advice in publicly naming the patient as a whistleblower, which led to the whistleblower then formally bringing allegations of a criminal nature to police, which the police are currently investigating, which led to further attempts by the corporation to attempt to publicly smear the whistle blower, which led to further escalation in the patient/whistleblower’s mental health state, which culminated in the patient sending a message "of concern" to the colleague:
is the colleague fully indemnified in ignoring what might be widely considered reasonably held concerns as to the corporation’s “interest” in the patient’s wellbeing and the seriousness of the police investigation and completely within their rights in not bothering to inform authorities but instead notifying a member of their corporation, despite knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the corporation is not – to put it euphemistically – working in the patient’s best interests?
if serious injury or loss of life had ensued – how liable is a colleague if it were proven that this loss of life etc might have been avoided had they made contact with the authorities directly rather than placing that information in the hands of the corporation to use as nefariously as was adjudged commercially necessary under the circumstances?
TLDR: if someone threatens suicide, are members of the public in any way obligated to contact authorities directly (and to ensure authorities are contacted) or is the law just kind of cool if we leave it to a mate to sort out and take their word that that’s what they did?
Thanks for the clarification.
As far as I am aware, there is no requirement for an untrained member of the public to specifically inform emergency services, and only emergency services, about a possible risk of suicide, unless some wider public danger is posed. Somebody receiving a suicide threat probably should contact whomever they believe is most likely to be able to successfully negotiate with that individual. Depending on the individual, that may very well not be the authorities.
True, thank you linger.