A major reform of the Mental Health Act will empower individuals to have more control over their treatment, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
According to the DHSC, the reforms will deliver parity between mental and physical health services and put patients’ views at the centre of their care. Other initiatives will tackle mental health inequalities including disproportionate detention of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, the use of the act to detain people with learning disabilities and autism, and improve care for patients within the criminal justice system.
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‘I want to ensure our health service works for all, yet the Mental Health Act is now 40 years old. We need to bring mental health laws into the 21st century. Reforming the Mental Health Act is one of our central manifesto commitments, so the law helps get the best possible care to everyone who needs it,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.
‘These reforms will rightly see people not just as patients, but as individuals, with rights, preferences, and expertise, who are able to rely on a system which supports them and only intervenes proportionately, and which has their health and wellbeing as its centre.’
The reforms will also change the way people with a learning disability and autistic people are treated in law by recognising a mental health inpatient setting is often not the best place to meet their specific needs. The proposal sets out that neither learning disability nor autism should be considered a mental disorder for which someone can be detained for treatment under Section 3 of the Act. Instead, people with a learning disability or autistic people could only be detained for treatment if a co-occurring mental health condition is identified by clinicians.
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‘I am committed to improving people’s experience under the Mental Health Act, and most importantly to making sure their care and treatment works for them,’ said Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Nadine Dorries.
‘We know people are too often disempowered and excluded from decisions, which is where the act, and our ability to successfully support people often fails. Informed by Sir Simon’s recommendations, we will transform the act to put patients at the centre of decisions about their own care.’