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How shortcomings in the mental health system affect the use of involuntary community treatment orders

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 05:31 authored by Light, EM, Robertson, MD, Boyce, P, Carney, T, Rosen, A, Cleary, M, Hunt, GE, O'Connor, N, Ryan, CJ, Kerridge, IH

Objective: The aim of the present study was to examine stakeholder perspectives on how the operation of the mental health system affects the use of involuntary community treatment orders (CTOs).

Methods: A qualitative study was performed, consisting of semi-structured interviews about CTO experiences with 38 purposively selected participants in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Participants included mental health consumers (n = 5), carers (n = 6), clinicians (n = 15) and members of the Mental Health Review Tribunal of NSW (n = 12). Data were analysed using established qualitative methodologies.

Results: Analysis of participant accounts about CTOs and their role within the mental health system identified two key themes, namely that: (1) CTOs are used to increase access to services; and (2) CTOs cannot remedy non-existent or inadequate services.

Conclusion: The findings of the present study indicate that deficiencies in health service structures and resourcing are a significant factor in CTO use. This raises questions about policy accountability for mental health services (both voluntary and involuntary), as well as about the usefulness of CTOs, justifications for CTO use and the legal criteria regulating CTO implementation.


Publication title

Australian Health Review








School of Nursing


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2017 AHHA.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health

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