The Australasian Approach to Defining Mental Disorder in a Mental Health Act
How should the mental element be defined in the legal standards governing a person’s ‘sectioning’ or civil commitment under the Mental Health Act (MHA)? This article considers how this mental element is defined in many MHAs in Australasia: that is, via a statutory list of disorders of mental function said to ‘characterise’ the necessary state of mind. The author assesses the assumptions that lie behind the adoption of this approach and discusses the views of several English law reform committees that have explored how the mental element should be defined. The article concludes that, while the Australasian approach does not avoid the need for further interpretation of the terms used to describe disorders of mental function in the statutory list, it better for the legislation to use such a definition than to provide no definition at all.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Keywords: Mental Health; Australasia; Health Law
Research Type: Journal Article