The Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983 is the main law in England and Wales that covers the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health condition.
Among other things, the Mental Health Act allows people to be detained in hospital if they have a mental health condition and need treatment. The Act was amended in 2007, however the Act is now over 30 years old.
Last year, the Prime Minister set up an Independent Review into the Mental Health Act to find out:
- why there have been rising rates of people detained under the Act in recent years;
- why people from black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act; and
- whether there are changes that need to be made to modernise the mental health care in England and Wales.
Today, the final report of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act has been published.
The Review includes a number of recommendations for change and calls on the Government to bring in legislation. Many of these recommendations seek to ensure that:
- The dignity and rights of people treated under the Mental Health Act are protected.
- Wherever possible, people have a greater say in decisions about their care and treatment.
- People are treated in the least restrictive setting, and are only treated in hospital as a last resort.
Over the last year, we have worked hard to influence the Mental Health Act Review to make sure that it addresses the concerns and experiences of children, young people and families.
The report includes a number of positive proposals that would mean that children and young people are only treated in hospital when absolutely necessary, and which would clarify their rights to be involved in – and challenge – decisions about their care.
We will continue to ensure that the voices of young people and families are listened to as the Government considers its response. But it is also vital that we see greater investment in early intervention, so that more young people receive support in their communities before they reach crisis point.
Our five priorities for change:
- Stronger rights to advice and advocacy
- Enabling children and young people to be involved in decisions about their treatment and care
- Strengthening protections for all young people, including voluntary patients and those in inappropriate settings.
- Improving care, treatment and transition planning
- Promoting the human rights and dignity of children and young people in mental health hospitals
What will happen now?
The Government will provide a formal response to the findings of the Review, which will set out what action they expect to take. This may include a public consultation on potential changes, or a paper which sets out potential changes to the law.
We will continue to call on the Government to take action to make changes to improve mental health law and practice, and to increase the rights of children, young people and their families.