Mental Health Act Review

The Government has commissioned an independent review of the Mental Health Act. This is an important opportunity to influence how people are treated when they are at their most unwell. You can get involved and share your views and experiences with us at Mind by contacting [email protected]

The Mental Health Act 1983 is the legislation in England and Wales that sets out when people can be detained and treated for their mental health in hospital against their wishes.

You can find information about your rights under the Mental Health Act on our legal pages and in our guide about sectioning.

What is the Review?

The Government has commissioned Professor Sir Simon Wessely to carry out an independent review of the Mental Health Act. Its job is to:

  • look at how the legislation is currently used
  • look at its impact on service users, families and staff
  • make recommendations for improving the legislation and related practices.

Some of the things they have been asked to look at are the rising rates of detentions, disproportionate numbers of people from black and minority ethnicities who are detained, safeguards, and concerns around community treatment orders (CTOs). A CTO is a form of discharge from detention in hospital where the person is subject to conditions and may be recalled to hospital.

The Interim Report

The Review has published an interim report on its work so far and is due to produce a report and recommendations before the end of 2018. Read Mind's response to the report.

Read more about the Review's work and find out how to get involved as opportunities arise.

Mind and the Review

Mind, together with the Mental Health Alliance, has been calling for a review of the Mental Health Act and we welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement of the review. The legislation is outdated and does not reflect the principles we expect to see in twenty-first century healthcare.

We are represented on the Review’s advisory panel and helping on its working groups.

We have made a written submission to the Review, which sets out what recommendations we think the Review should make to Government to improve the current legislation and the mental health services in which it operates. We are also calling for a more fundamental review of the legislative framework around mental health and capacity.

People from some Black and Minority Ethnic communities are more likely to be detained under the Act, especially African and Caribbean people. We've heard how little confidence BME people have in mental health services; stereotyping, lack of cultural awareness and use of coercion creates widespread mistrust. Our submission seeks to highlight issues for BME communities and make recommendations to improve people's rights, experience and outcomes. 

Read our submission

Join the conversation

We're hosting a Facebook Live session where Steven Gilbert, one of the vice-chairs of the Review, will take part. Take part on Facebook on Monday 3 September or watch back later.

Why the Act needed to be reviewed

The 1983 Act is outdated – it was based on earlier legislation and the grounds for detaining people have not changed for many years, even though health care and attitudes towards mental health have changed radically.

Since the Act was last amended ten years ago:

  • there has been a continued rise in detentions
  • people from ‘Black and Black British’ groups are still more subject to coercion than others
  • research has shown that community treatment orders, introduced in the 2008, do not make a difference to whether or not people are readmitted to hospital
  • there have been important developments in recognising the rights of disabled people, which includes people with mental health problems.

A survey by the Mental Health Alliance found that, while a majority of respondents said there were circumstances when being treated against your will in hospital may be necessary, there were deep concerns that people's dignity, autonomy and human rights were being overlooked.

Read Colin King's blog about his experiences of the Mental Health Act, both as a patient and a practitioner.

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