Mental Health and Related Services Act

The Mental Health and Related Services Act is the legislation that governs the delivery of mental health services in the Northern Territory.

The Act provides for the treatment of people with mental illness in hospitals and the community. It aims to protect the rights of people with mental illness or mental disorder whilst ensuring that they have access to appropriate care. This care is provided with as little restriction on the rights and liberties of the patient as the circumstances permit.

Amendments to the Act came into operation on 2 March 2009, following a review of the Mental Health and Related Services Act 1998, which commenced operation on 1 February 2000.

The development of the 1998 Act was an eight-year process involving extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and was undertaken on the basis of a National Mental Health Strategy  requirement that all jurisdictions review mental health legislation to ensure compliance with the United Nations Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness and the Improvement of Mental Health Care and the National Mental Health Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. The Model Mental Health Law was also developed at this time, establishing a strong foundation on which mental health legislation in the Territory has been based.

Between 1998 and 2007, changes to the way in which services are administered and delivered and a substantial improvement in available technologies, as well as issues arising with the day-to-day operation of some parts of the legislation, resulted in the development and implementation of the most recent amendments to the Act. 

The following brochures provide more information about specific areas of the Act:

For more information about how the Act relates to you as a consumer or carer, visit the Information for Consumers and Carers  page.

Forms for practitioners:

Under the Act, any medical practitioner registered to practice in the Northern Territory can make a Recommendation for Psychiatric Examination. To do so, please complete Form 9 - Entry to Mental Health Services (Adobe PDF document - 815KB) Part A and fax to:

Darwin Region:
(08) 8922 8878

(08) 8973 8561

East Arnhem:
(08) 8987 0443

Tennant Creek:
(08) 8962 4304

Alice Springs:
(08) 8951 7836