By Costa Gauci

07th May 2020

Categorised in Mental & Emotional Health

New Review Suggests More Rights For Those With Mental Health

An independent review ordered by Theresa May has found that the 1983 Mental Health Act needs a serious overhaul. As BBC News reported, the panel included mental health professionals, academics and patients. The review took place over a period of 18 months and amongst its recommendations were the following:

  • Legally binding Advanced Care Plans so patients could express how they wanted to be treated in the event of them being sectioned
  • New rights for patients to legally challenge their treatment
  • An end to police cells being used as a place of safety and less frequent use of police cars to transport patients.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, who chaired the review, told the Today programme on Radio 4 that the Mental Health Act needs to be brought up to date. “The act needs to help them more – to make it easier for people to express their choices and preferences about how they want to be treated and harder for them to be ignored.”

Professor Wesseley also told Today that black and ethnic minorities along with people with learning disabilities and autism appeared to be particularly ill served by the act as they had higher rates of detention.

The review wants to see a reduction in both the numbers of detentions and the use of compulsory treatment orders (which sees patients released from hospital under supervision.)

The recommendations relate to England and Wales only. The review team said Scotland had already started making some of these changes, while Northern Ireland has agreed to review its own laws.

The recommendations have been widely supported by mental health charities such as MIND and Rethink Mental Illness. Doctors have also acknowledged that change is needed with professor Wendy Burn of the Royal College of Psychiatrists admitting that detention was ‘incredibly stressful’ for patients.

BBC News reported that Prime Minister Theresa May has said the review would be used to make changes to the legislation. The PM told the BBC ‘ The disparity in our mental health services is one of the burning injustices this country faces that we must put right,”. Mrs May went on to say ‘For decades, it has somehow been accepted that if you have a mental illness you will not receive the same access to treatment as if you have a physical ailment. Well, that is not acceptable.’

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