New bill will ‘bring mental health laws into the 21st century’

Mental health reforms aim to give people more control over treatment 

mental health
14th January 2021 about a 2 minute read
"I want to ensure our health service works for all, yet the Mental Health Act is now 40 years old. We need to bring mental health laws into the 21st century." Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary

The Government has published a package of major reforms to the Mental Health Act.

The proposals have been set out in a new Reforming the Mental Health Act White Paper, which builds on recommendations made by Sir Simon Wessely’s Independent Review of the Mental Health Act in 2018.

The reforms aim to empower individuals to have more control over their treatment and ensure that the act’s powers are used “in the least restrictive way”.

The government also hopes they will deliver parity between mental and physical health services and put patients’ views at the centre of their care.

The plans also aim to tackle mental health inequalities, including:

  • disproportionate detention of people from BAME communities 
  • the use of the act to detain people with learning disabilities and autism 
  • improving care for patients within the criminal justice system.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“This is a significant moment in how we support those with serious mental health issues. It will give people more autonomy over their care and will tackle disparities for all who access services, in particular for people from minority ethnic backgrounds”.

The Government plans to consult on a number of measures including:

  • Introducing statutory advance choice documents to enable people to express their wishes on their care.
  • Implementing the right for an individual to choose a nominated person who is best placed to look after their interests under the act.
  • Expanding the role of independent mental health advocates.
  • Piloting culturally appropriate advocates.
  • Ensuring mental illness is the reason for detention under the act.
  • Improving access to community-based mental health support to prevent avoidable detentions under the act.

The White Paper “sets out the path” towards the introduction of the first new Mental Health Bill for 30 years in 2022.

Click here for more information on the White Paper. This consultation closes