Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross is improving but remains in the mental health wing at Middlemore Hospital, after surviving a "very real situation" on Saturday night, a friend says.

Concern for Ross' health has amplified since he was picked up by police on Sunday and sectioned to a mental health facility.

"He's a bit rough at the moment, but getting the help he needs. He's in good care. Staff are wonderful," said the friend, who did not want to be named.

"This was definitely not attention-seeking. It was a very real situation he was in on Saturday night," the friend added.


It follows a week of political turbulence in which Ross and the National Party traded blows, while Ross' marriage suffered after he admitted having extra-marital affairs.

The National caucus is meeting this morning for the first time since expelling Ross last week. It is likely to appoint a caretaker MP for Botany - possibly Judith Collins, or Simeon Brown - to look after constituents' concerns in the absence of Ross.

Ross will continue to hold the seat of Botany unless he resigns, National leader Simon Bridges uses the waka-jumping law (a process that takes at least 21 working days), or Ross is deemed unfit due to mental health reasons (a process that takes at least six months).

The friend said there had been no discussion about whether he might resign, as Ross had "more important things" to think about at this stage.

Following Ross' admission to hospital, several steps need to occur before Speaker Trevor Mallard would be notified that an MP was the subject of a compulsory treatment order.

Mallard said he had not received any such notice, but constitutional lawyer Graeme Edgeler said informing the Speaker was the last step in a process that could take weeks.

It was standard practice to take five days to make a mental health assessment, Edgeler said.

"But if the five days isn't enough, it can be extended to 14 days. If those have happened and they still wish to compulsorily treat someone, they then ask a Family Court judge.


"If the judge makes a compulsory treatment order or an equivalent order, at that point the court notifies the Speaker.

"It would be exceedingly unlikely for a court to be involved at this early stage."

If the court issued a compulsory treatment order, the Speaker would then ask the Director-General of Health and a medical practitioner to assess if the MP was considered "mentally disordered".

If so, a further assessment would follow six months later. If the patient was still unwell, the Speaker would be obliged to inform the House and vacate the MP's seat, triggering a byelection.

The law defines "mentally disordered" as someone who suffers from "an abnormal state of mind ... characterised by delusions, or by disorders of mood or perception or volition or cognition" that poses a serious health risk, or renders that person unable to take care of themselves.

Tomorrow the National caucus will also discuss the waka-jumping law, which could be used to force Ross out of Parliament.


Otago University law professor Andrew Geddis said that the party had a case to use the law, but he considered it unlikely.

"No political party is going to force an unwell MP who is undergoing treatment out of Parliament. They just aren't," Geddis wrote on the Pundit blog.

To use the law - which National opposed vehemently - Bridges would have to give Ross 21 working days' notice, and then need a two-thirds majority in caucus to support him.

He would then notify the Speaker, who could vacate the seat and call a byelection.

Ross could also fight any decision in court, as Donna Awatere Huata did after she was expelled from the Act Party in 2003. The Supreme Court ruled against her in 2004.

Meanwhile, the Mental Health Foundation took to social media on Monday to address "upsetting" behaviour it has witnessed around the Jami-Lee Ross saga.


Until yesterday the foundation remained quiet on the entire Ross, Simon Bridges and National Party saga but now says it feels it needs to comment on the matter.

"We have until now remained mostly quiet about Jami-Lee Ross and we will continue not to give comment to media for the time being, but we'd like to say something to you," it wrote on Twitter.

"We have been troubled (as have many of you) by some unkind and sensationalised comments regarding Mr Ross's mental health. We know and accept that to have a sitting MP apparently sectioned under the Mental Health Act is unprecedented and there are many other aspects of this story that warrant open discussion, but we are disappointed to see old attitudes about mental illness and distress seeping into those discussions.

"The Mental Health Foundation has no position on the political aspects of this conversation. But we believe you can have discussions about these valid issues without using discriminatory or stigmatising language and without weaponising Mr Ross's distress against him."

The foundation said everyone experiencing mental health problems deserved "compassion, support and privacy".

"We're all very good at telling people to ask for help when they're struggling, but today we're asking you to think about what you're telling those same people when you're talking about Mr Ross. Everyone who is experiencing a mental health problem deserves compassion, support and privacy," it wrote.


"The damage done by thoughtless words and conversations can be hard to see. It builds up over time. Someone might laugh today but remember your words years later when they're struggling. They might feel ashamed and be less likely to reach out for help.

"We have heard from people who have had to turn away from social media and avoid the news because they have found these discussions so upsetting. We hope you'll keep them in mind in the coming days and weeks. If you're having a hard time at the moment, kia kaha. If you ever need to talk, you can free call or text 1737 to talk with a trained counsellor, any time."


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

• Youthline: 0800 376 633


• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.