Mind responds to 'wake-up call' NHS Digital Mental Health Act stats

Posted On: 
9th October 2018

Today’s statistics are yet another wake-up call about the urgent need to reform the Mental Health Act, says Mind.

Today’s statistics are yet another wake-up call about the urgent need to reform the Mental Health Act – which is currently under review – effectively. Although the data is unfortunately incomplete, it appears that some worrying trends are continuing. For example, more people are being detained against their will under the Act, while some black and minority ethnic groups continue to be over-represented, particularly regarding community treatment orders.

Being sectioned is one of the most serious things that can happen to somebody experiencing a mental health problem. Whatever the therapeutic intent or clinical need, it can be completely disempowering. Loss of liberty can be traumatising, when, for example, the police are involved in the initial sectioning or people’s wishes and preferences are unheard and overruled when detained.

While progress is being made to improve services for people with mental health problems, the current Act does not reflect the principles we expect to see in 21st century healthcare. It often fails to meet basic expectations of treating people with dignity and respect.

Since the review of the Act was announced, Mind has been actively involved in making sure that the views and experiences of people with mental health problems go to the heart of the discussion. There needs to be vastly improved service provision and increased rights of access to support, which would dramatically lower the need for involuntary interventions and compulsions. We want to see stricter criteria on the ability to detain people and impose treatments, and greater responsibility on mental health services to engage with people about their treatment. The dignity, safety and meaningful involvement of people in their own care, and their ability to challenge care when it falls short of reasonable expectations, must also be maximised.

We now have our first opportunity in years to make this right, and today’s figures show just how important this is.