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Mental Health Act Review

Volume 629: debated on Monday 9 October 2017

The Government have commissioned an independent review of mental health legislation and practice to tackle the issue of mental health detention.

There have been concerns that detention rates under the Mental Health Act are too high. The number of detentions has been rising year on year, and last year on average there were 180 cases a day where people were sectioned under the terms of the act. People from black and minority ethnic populations are disproportionately affected, with black people in particular being almost four times more likely than white people to be detained.

The Government are committed to improving mental health services and ensuring that people with mental health problems receive the treatment and support they need, when they need it. This can mean that people need to be made subject to the Mental Health Act—that is, be detained or ‘sectioned’. In these cases, our dedicated professional staff—including psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, and the police—work tirelessly to ensure that people are treated with dignity under the Act, and that their liberty and autonomy are respected as far as possible.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, will lead the review which will deliver recommendations for change to the Government. Sir Simon will look at the evidence, review practice, and above all consider the needs of service users and their families, and how best the system can help and support them. He will identify improvements in how the Act is used in practice, as well as how we might need to change the Act itself. Vice chairs will be appointed to work with Sir Simon and ensure the leadership of the review has comprehensive professional expertise whilst also being representative of service users and others affected by the Mental Health Act.

Following consultation with stakeholders, Sir Simon will produce an interim report identifying priorities for the review’s work in early 2018, and develop a final report containing detailed recommendations on its priorities, by autumn 2018.

Further detail on the independent review, including its terms of reference, can be found at: