Today, the Government are announcing major reforms to the Mental Health Act to give individuals more control over the services they receive, delivering on the commitment the Conservative Government made in our manifesto to improve people’s experience under the Act and ensure their care and treatment works for them.
People too often feel disempowered and excluded from decisions about their care in a mental health crisis, which is why at the last election the Conservative Party promised to put patients at the centre of decisions that affect them, as part of our plan to drive parity between mental and physical health support.
Set out in a White Paper the Government are publishing today; our reforms will lead to greater choice and autonomy for patients who experience a mental health crisis and ensure services better meet the needs of people with learning disabilities and autism. They will also ensure the Act is used in the least restrictive way, so that patients get the care they need to recover.
This is a significant moment in how the Government supports those with serious mental health issues which will give patients more autonomy over their care and end the disparities in how people access services, in particular for people from minority ethnic backgrounds, for good.
The white paper sets out the path towards the Government’s commitment to introduce the first new Mental Health Bill for 30 years, and end the stigma of mental illness once and for all.
For changes which require legislation, consultations will continue until early spring 2021 to listen to the concerns people have, and a draft Mental Health Bill will be shared next year.
The Government will consult on a number of proposed changes, including:
- introducing statutory ‘advance choice documents’ to enable people to express their wishes and preferences on their care when they are well, before the need arises for them to go into hospital
- implementing the right for an individual to choose a nominated person who is best placed to look after their interests under the act if they aren’t able to do so themselves
- expanding the role of independent mental health advocates to offer a greater level of support and representation to every patient detained under the act
- piloting culturally appropriate advocates so patients from all ethnic backgrounds can be better supported to voice their individual needs
- ensuring mental illness is the reason for detention under the act, and that neither autism nor a learning disability are grounds for detention for treatment of themselves
- improving access to community-based mental health support, including crisis care, to prevent avoidable detentions under the act – this is already underway backed by £2.3 billion a year as part of the NHS Long Term Plan
For any more information on the Government’s major reform of Mental Health Act, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/landmark-reform-of-mental-health-laws.