The Brit-turned-Kiwi will present a history of mental health legislation in New Zealand and just how that has always been more about public safety than the care of the patient to the interdisciplinary 2nd International Conference on the Patient.
It is the first time he has ever presented at a conference, but says that doesn’t faze him.
Much of his presentation will come from his Master of Nursing thesis on an analysis of the mental health legislation in New Zealand from 1846 through to the present day.
Chris, who has been a psych nurse for 36 years, having worked both clinically and as a lecturer, says he unearthed a few surprises while working on his thesis.
“I was most surprised that a law was actually introduced as early as 1846, which was very early on in the history of New Zealand as a colony,” he said.
Back then the law – called the Lunatics Ordinance 1846 – was about people who were identified as having mental health problems as being a public nuisance.
And while the nation has moved on a fair bit since then, Chris says when it comes to mental health, there is still a lot of 18th century thinking these days.
Chris is looking forward to hearing other presentations at the three day conference, which will all be on how treatment affects patients.