Reform of the Mental Health Act
My experience was very harsh. I felt staff lacked empathy and so instead of being put at ease that I was being put in a ‘place of safety’, I was confused and scared at what was happening. I was not consulted on the procedures and process of being detained or made to feel less anxious.
We are working to influence government proposals on reforms to the Mental Health Act. We believe more people should be able to access Independent Mental Health Advocacy so that their rights are protected.
Currently, the Act provides a right to an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) for those who are detained or subject to supervised Community Treatment Orders (CTOs). The recent independent review of the Mental Health Act received strong evidence that “advocacy enables patients to understand and exercise their rights and gives them support to make shared decisions.”
What we are calling for
To help give patients a greater voice over their treatment, we believe the reforms should
- make the IMHA service an ‘opt-out’ so more people can benefit if they choose
- give voluntary patients a right to an IMHA - to put England on a par with Wales
- formally extend IMHA advocacy to cover care planning and advance choice decisions
- strengthen and clarify the IMHA role in providing support for tribunal reviews
We are also calling on the government to collect and publish data on advocacy referrals by local authority area to help spotlight any barriers to people’s right to an advocate.
We believe there should be a specific review as to whether autism and learning disabilities should be excluded from the definition of mental disorder in the Act.
What we are doing
VoiceAbility supported the Department of Health and Social Care by carrying out interviews and running focus groups to gather the views of people currently detained, or previously detained, under the Mental Health Act.
Now that the independent review has been published, we are calling on the Government to act urgently to take forward the review’s recommendations. We are working with parliamentarians to push this forward and ensure peoples voices are heard and that the changes lead to improvements in people’s rights and experience under the Act.