Legal aid and mental health

Legal aid is government funded legal help and advice: from someone talking through your problem with you on the phone, to having a solicitor to represent you at a tribunal. Before 2012, legal aid helped people to manage life’s day-to-day challenges, stay well and avoid crisis by making sure they could access the courts when they needed to.

Since then, Government changes to the legal aid system have drastically reduced the types of legal problem the fund covers, leaving too many people with mental health problems without any support.

If people with mental health problems can’t get legal aid, problems with housing, debt and benefits can quickly spiral out of control, and the impact can be devastating. 

An unjust system?

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) changed the types of legal problem that you can get legal aid for - drastically reducing the number of people who are eligible, and the number of cases being funded by legal aid. 

We’re concerned that far too many people with mental health problems have been left to handle legal problems without legal advice or help.

Our new report, An unjust system?, shows that the changes made by the LASPO Act 2012 have disproportionately affected people with mental health problems. In fact, it shows that one in two people who lost out on legal aid due to the act had mental health problems. 

Read our full report: An unjust system?

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