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Public health emergency: COVID-19

The Office of the Chief Psychiatrist has plans in place to manage impacts on the provision of treatment and care to patients under the Mental Health Act 2016, in response to the public health emergency (declared due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak).

During the public health emergency period, the Chief Psychiatrist has released the following resources for authorised mental health services:

  • Queensland Health guideline for Legislative frameworks relevant to the management of COVID-19
  • Chief Psychiatrist policy for Temporary amendments to Chief Psychiatrist policies
  • Chief Psychiatrist policy for Temporary modifications to the Mental Health Act 2016.

Queensland Health staff can find further COVID-19 specific guidance by accessing this page on QHEPS.

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  • This guideline provides guidance on the application of relevant powers under the Public Health Act 2005 to issue directions, enforcement and detention orders to reduce and contain the spread of COVID-19.

    Considerations are also highlighted for the application of the Mental Health Act 2016, Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 and Powers of Attorney Act 1998 in relation to decision making for individuals with impaired capacity to consent.

    Guideline (and flowcharts): Legislative frameworks relevant to the management of COVID-19 (PDF 2958 kB)

  • This policy aims to reduce and contain the spread of COVID-19. Temporary provisions within this policy amend requirements under existing Chief Psychiatrist policies, to enable administrators and clinicians in authorised mental health services to continue to meet their obligations and requirements under the Mental Health Act 2016, while ensuring patients receive appropriate treatment and care for their mental illness in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Temporary policy: Temporary amendments to Chief Psychiatrist policies (PDF 1398 kB)

    Temporary form: Notification to the Chief Psychiatrist of non-compliance in the context of COVID-19 (PDF 293 kB)

  • As part of Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mental Health Act 2016 has been amended to ensure that the legislation can be applied safely and effectively whilst supporting measures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 within the community. These amendments are temporary and will only apply while the public health emergency declaration made under the Public Health Act 2005 remains in place and will expire on 31 October 2022.

    Broadly, the amendments allow the Chief Psychiatrist to approve an absence from an authorised mental health service for a patient detained under the Mental Health Act 2016, if satisfied that the absence is necessary to comply with a detention order or public health direction given under the Public Health Act 2005.

    The amendments to the Mental Health Act 2016 are intended to operate only as a last resort, when application of the standard provisions result in a conflict with a direction or order given under the Public Health Act 2005.

    To guide services in the application of these new provisions the Chief Psychiatrist has released a Chief Psychiatrist policy for Temporary modifications to the Mental Health Act 2016.

    Temporary policyTemporary modifications to the Mental Health Act 2016 (PDF 323 kB)

    Temporary form: Chief Psychiatrist approval – Approved absences in relation to COVID-19 emergency period for particular patients (DOCX 91 kB)

Last updated: 12 April 2022