NZ not providing a minimal standard of care, mental health expert says

Former Canterbury Clinical and Forensic Director of Area Mental Health Services Dr Erik Monasterio writes that little has changed since he and colleagues highlighted the human rights violations of mentally ill people in NZ prisons in the NZMJ back in 2020. Dr Monasterio resigned from the role when he felt wider systemic factors in the mental health system stood in the way of him helping care for this group of people, leading him to be unable to meet the role’s responsibilities. In a new editorial, Dr Monasterio explains those systemic factors that led to his decision to resign, and says there is still an urgent need to provide adequate mental health care to stop people with serious mental illness going to prison instead of receiving care. Failure to do so breaches the Bill of Rights Act 1990, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and national and international agreements on the minimal standard of care for prisoners, he writes.

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