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Monday 26 February 2018 11.25 BST

'Reform of Mental Health Act' - Letter to your MP

Please help us to get the Mental Health Act changed.

We have provided a pre-written letter you can download, fill in and send to your MP.

Get involved and help us to make the changes happen!

Download your Letter here

Wednesday 14 February 2018 12.30 BST 

Survey for people who have been sectioned under the mental health act and/or supported someone who has been sectioned

The Mental Health Act 1983 is the law in England and Wales that covers assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental disorder. This includes when a person can be admitted, detained, and treated in hospital without their agreement. 

This Independent Review of the Mental Health Act was set up in October to review how the law was used and how practice can improve. You can find out more about the review here . As part of this, the review wants to listen to all of the people who have experience with the Mental Health Act to help them have their say about what future practice and/or law should look like. 

This survey is aimed at service users and carers with experience of the Mental Health Act. 

The survey will begin with a few short questions to find out a bit more about you before you tell us about your experiences. We will keep what you tell us in confidence, you will not be able to be indentified in any reports from this survey. 

We want to encourage you to tell us about all of your experiences, this may be one or more. If you prefer the survey is available to download and complete https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/independent-review-of-the-mental-health-act

This survey will close on 28 February 2018.

Mental Health News

Tuesday 9 May 2017 11.51 BST

Theresa May wants to scrap the Mental Health Act. Here’s what should replace it

Mark Brown

If she is serious about reforming mental health care, she should redress the balance between reducing the risk to the public and maximising healing and care
In Theresa May’s first speech as prime minister, in July last year, she stressed the need for greater resources for mental health care.
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
 
Theresa May is keen that we know she cares about mental health. She told us so in her first speech as prime minister. She announced alterations to the Equalities Act to reduce workplace discrimination, rollout mental health workers in schools and recruit 10,000 more staff by 2020.
Coinciding with the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week she told the Sunday Times this week that, should she win the general election on 8 June she would replace “in its entirety the flawed Mental Health Act”, which “too often leads to detention, disproportionate effects and the forced treatment of vulnerable people”.
A new mental health bill sounds sweeping and decisive to the layperson, but the current Mental Health Act for England and Wales is mainly concerned with a specific but contentious element of mental health treatment: the legal processes and safeguards for detaining and treating a person without their consent if they are judged to threaten their own or others’ health or safety. When we talk about “sectioning” we are talking about the section of the Mental Health Act 1983 under which someone is held. It makes us feel uncomfortable; blurring the line between treatment and legal proceedings.
Right now, a “new mental health bill” is an entirely notional thing and one that would take years to create, especially with Brexit taking up parliamentary time. Were May to be given her blank slate, what might her government do to make things better?
The last revision of the Mental Health Act was in 2007. It added the right to an independent advocate while in hospital and, betraying its origin in the New Labour years when asbo-style thinking dominated social policy, it introduced the contentious community treatment orders, by which people discharged from hospital could be recalled if they did not follow the treatment prescribed to them.
If we really wanted change we could aim much higher: imagine a bill of rights for those experiencing mental distress. A future bill could enshrine in law an entitlement to adequate social security benefits for those too unwell to work. No one should experience poverty as a result of mental ill health. Few people have access to someone to fight their corner while in hospital or treatment since true independent advocacy has withered due to cuts. That could change.
Were May serious about reforming mental health care, she could set minimum standards to which all are entitled by law, including both inpatient and outpatient care. A future bill could guarantee that all stays in hospital were safe, free from prejudice and discrimination, and based upon the principle not just of reducing risk to the public but maximising the possibilities of healing and care for those requiring it. If the intention is to reduce admissions, this act could find ways to mitigate the disadvantages that those who are in serious mental health need face in housing, employment and education. The bill could lay out the provisions for those who wished to refuse treatment, and build new models of consent and care.
No one really likes the Mental Health Act, with many viewing it as, at best, a necessary evil shot through with compromises between safety and care. Being deprived of your liberty when you are ill is distressing. It’s something that most of us will never experience but something that has a huge impact on those that do.
A new mental health bill could bring us so much more if we were brave. It could be a chance to create a covenant that commits our country to protecting, nurturing and healing those in distress. May’s intention is no doubt sincere but will be doubtless coloured by her own authoritarian instincts and her party’s instinct to shrink the state.

Sunday 7 May 2017 00.04 BST

Theresa May pledges mental health revolution will reduce detentions

Michael Savage

Prime minister says new legislation is needed to end discrimination resulting from current Mental Health Act
New laws would be designed to stop the steep rise in detentions. Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian

Theresa May will pledge to scrap the “flawed” Mental Health Act, warning that it has allowed the unnecessary detention of thousands of people and failed to deal with discrimination against ethnic minority patients.

In an attempt to meet her pledge to prioritise mental illness during her premiership, she will commit to ripping up the 30-year-old legislation and replace it with new laws designed to halt a steep rise in the number of people being detained. Increased thresholds for detention would be drawn up in a new mental health treatment bill to be unveiled soon after a Conservative victory. Mental health charities, clinicians and patients would be consulted on the new legislation.


While the announcement is likely to be welcomed by mental health campaigners, there will be warnings that a lack of resources, rather than badly drafted laws, has been the real driver of the increase in detention.

The overhaul is being described by the Conservatives as the biggest change to the law on mental health treatment in more than three decades.

“On my first day in Downing Street last July, I described shortfalls in mental health services as one of the burning injustices in our country,” May said. “It is abundantly clear to me that the discriminatory use of a law passed more than three decades ago is a key part of the reason for this.

“So today I am pledging to rip up the 1983 act and introduce in its place a new law which finally confronts the discrimination and unnecessary detention that takes place too often. We are going to roll out mental health support to every school in the country, ensure that mental health is taken far more seriously in the workplace, and raise standards of care.”

More than 63,000 people were detained under the Mental Health Act in 2014-15, an increase of 43% compared with 2005-06. Black people are also disproportionately affected – with a detention rate of 56.9 per 100 patients who spent time in hospital for mental illness. It compares with a rate of 37.5 per 100 among white patients.

In its last report on the act, the Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of healthcare services, said it had “failings that may disempower patients, prevent people from exercising legal rights, and ultimately impede recovery or even amount to unlawful and unethical practice”.

The new legislation would include a code of practice aimed at reducing the disproportionate use of mental health detention for minority groups and countering “unconscious bias”. Safeguards would be introduced to end rules that mean those who are detained can be treated against their will. Those with the capacity to give or refuse consent would be able to do so.

The new bill would form part of a series of measures designed to improve mental health in schools and the workplace. However, ministers would face immediate questions over whether they were providing sufficient funding for their plans.

The Tories would commit to hiring 10,000 staff in the NHS by 2020. An insider said the plan would be funded from existing budgets, because mental health service funding will be up by £1.4bn in real terms by 2020.

The Equalities Act would also be altered to prevent workplace discrimination. Currently patients who have conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder are only protected from discrimination if their condition is continuous for 12 months. That would be altered to take account of the fact that the conditions are often intermittent.

Every primary and secondary school in England and Wales would have staff trained in mental health first aid and be given a single point of contact with local mental health services. Children would be taught more about mental health, including keeping safe online and cyber-bullying.

 

Large companies would be required to train mental health first responders alongside traditional first aiders.

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