Government's Mental Health Bill will not help reduce suicides
Posted Wednesday 11 April 2007
Sophie Corlett, policy director at mental health charity Mind, today welcomed news that suicide rates are falling, but warned that the Government's mental health legislation risks harming, not helping patients:
"The claim that Supervised Community Treatment will help people get the treatment they need is, at best, misleading. People are routinely turned away from over-stretched mental health services, even when they're desperately seeking help, and no amount of legislation will change this.
"Only if the Government invested properly in mental health - in assertive outreach teams, in psychotherapists, in inpatient care, and in anti-stigma campaigns, everything that experts say is essential - might we expect people to get the help they need.
"Instead, they are ploughing ahead with a Mental Health Bill that will harm rather than help patients. By scaring the most vulnerable away from seeking help, this legislation risks endangering patients. Ministers have failed to find evidence to back their proposed Supervised Community Treatment orders. They have failed to find support for their plans from doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers or patients. We must hope that they fail in their attempt to pass this deeply flawed legislation."
Under Supervised Community Treatment, people leaving hospital would be given a Community Treatment Order, specifying a treatment regime which patients would be obliged to comply with in their own home, and determining limits on their lifestyles, for example, preventing them going to certain places. They have been nicknamed 'psychiatric Asbos', and are opposed by the clinicians who would be expected to implement them. These draconian measures are very likely to scare patients away from seeking help when they are vulnerable.
The second Commons reading of the Mental Health Bill is expected on Monday 16 April. The Bill has already faced fierce opposition and significant amendment in the House of Lords, where it started. The Government rejected an amendment which would have given everyone a right to an assessment of their mental health needs.