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Reforming the Mental Health Act: Our response to the public consultation

21 April 2021

We’ve submitted our response to the consultation for the White Paper on the Mental Health Act.

The government published a white paper with their proposals to reform the Mental Health Act. We agree that the Mental Health Act needs changing. We also think that this is a once in a generation opportunity to improve an out-of-date law. 

Together with over 30 other advocacy organisations we’ve responded to the government’s public consultation, setting out what we think about the proposals. 

You can read our response in full by clicking below.

Some of the things we call for in our response are:

Advocacy should be automatically offered to anyone who is given care or treatment under the Mental Health Act. 

At the moment, you only have a right to a mental health advocate if you have been sectioned. Being sectioned means you have been detained and the law says you have to be in hospital. If you are unwell with a serious mental health problem but have come to hospital voluntarily’, then you do not have the right to the support of an advocate. We think this is wrong and that everyone who is in hospital for a mental health problem should be able to get an advocate. Offering advocacy on an opt-out’ basis would mean that more people get vital support to make their voice heard when it matters most.

More powers for Mental Health Tribunals to make sure people get the support they need outside of hospital. 

Too many people with a learning disability and autistic people are often detained in hospital when it is not the best place for them, making the experience very traumatic. A Tribunal able to put pressure on public bodies could help to address this.

Everyone who is an in-patient on a mental health ward should be protected under the Mental Health Act, as has been recommended by the Law Commission. 

If there is a two-tier system of using the Mental Capacity Act for some people, this might lead to more people being deprived of their liberty, but with fewer safeguards and less protection of their rights.

Part III of the Mental Health Act should also be reformed, to protect the human rights of people who are in prison or in the criminal justice system, and who have a serious mental health problem.