for better mental health

Laws and debates

Mind informs debate and legislation in the UK Parliament that affects people with mental health problems. We send briefings to MPs and Peers, meet politicians to improve awareness of mental health in Parliament and campaign to improve policies.

NHS Funding Bill

The NHS Funding Bill is one of the first pieces of legislation that Boris Johnson’s new Government introduced in 2020. It aims to enshrine in law the extra money that has been pledged for the NHS - an extra £33.9bn a year by 2024. This funding was first announced in the NHS Long Term Plan in January 2019.

The Long Term Plan sets out how, over the next decade, NHS England will use this additional investment to transform services and meet the increasing demands of a growing and ageing population. We were pleased to see mental health be given the attention it deserves within the Long Term Plan. For too long, those of us with mental health problems have had to put up with second-rate, second-class services, with far too many people still struggling to access treatment and support. Decades of underfunding and neglect mean that services are all too often delivered in substandard, and sometimes dangerous, facilities and there are significant shortages in the mental health workforce.

That’s why Mind, The Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Rethink Mental Illness have joined together to call on Parliament to amend the NHS Funding Bill. We want to see a new clause inserted, which would mean the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care would be legally required to report to Parliament every year on how funding for mental health services has moved us closer to parity of esteem. Parliament would have a chance to scrutinise this report, and hold the Government to account.

The Mental Health Act Review

The Mental Health Act 1983 is the main piece of legislation which sets out when you can be detained and treated in hospital without your agreement, and your rights in these circumstances. This is also known as being sectioned. At over 30 years old, the Mental Health Act 1983 is outdated and in urgent need of reform. Attitudes towards mental health have changed radically in recent years, however the Act has not kept up with this progress.

In October 2017, the Government commissioned an independent review of the Mental Health Act, led by Professor Sir Simon Wessely and the final report was published in December 2018. It included 154 recommendations aimed at improving people’s experiences under the Act and reducing the need to detain people under the Act.

We are waiting for the Government to fully respond to the Review, but they have already accepted three recommendations and committed to bringing forward a mental health reform Bill. We are calling on the Government to implement all of the Review’s recommendations and are asking MPs from all parties to support reform of the Mental Health Act. Over the next few months we’ll be working to build MP’s understanding of why the Mental Health Act needs to change so that they can scrutinise the Government’s mental health reform Bill when it is introduced to Parliament.

Read about how we fed into the Review

Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act

We’ve been campaigning to reduce the use of restraint since 2011 and this has led to national guidance and commitments to reduce its use. But while there are lots of examples of good practice, in some areas people with mental health problems are still subject to restraint on a daily basis. 

That’s why we supported the introduction of the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill. This Private Members Bill, sponsored by Steve Reed MP, aimed to reduce the use of force specifically in mental health hospitals. Steve Reed introduced the Bill following the sad death of one of his constituents, Seni Lewis, who died after being restrained in a mental health hospital.

We campaigned to encourage MPs to support ‘Seni’s Law’ in Parliament and campaigned for amendments to improve the Bill. The Bill secured Royal Assent at the end of 2018 and is expected to come into force in Spring 2020. It will mean the following:

  • Better training for staff to manage difficult situations.
  • Better data, improving transparency and highlighting problem areas.
  • Police will need to wear body cameras when called to mental health settings, which can be used in evidence.

Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019

The Mental Capacity Act revolves around the safeguards available to people who are deemed to lack capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment. Sometimes people who are deemed to lack capacity may have restrictive care arrangements, such as not being allowed to leave the place where they are receiving treatment without permission or not being able to see their family. A system called the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) sets out the procedures for putting restrictive care arrangements in place and the safeguards to protect people’s rights in these circumstances.

In July 2018 the Government introduced the Mental Capacity Act (Amendment) Bill, which proposed to bring in a new set of procedures for introducing restrictive care arrangements. This is because the DoLS system has been heavily criticised for being too complicated and there is currently a significant backlog in applications.

While we understood the need to overhaul DoLS, we were worried that the proposed procedure (called the Liberty Protection Safeguards) would not give people enough protections. Together with a number of other charities, we campaigned for vital changes to strengthen people’s rights under the Bill.

The Bill received Royal Assent in May 2019 and although MPs and Peers had made a number of important changes, we still have several concerns about the new process. We’re now working with the Government to try to ensure that the guidance which accompanies the Bill is as clear as possible about people’s rights.

Primary Care

Around one third of all GP appointments involve mental health. We want everyone who visits their GP practice to get the support they need. But we know that many of your constituents are not getting the right support for their mental health in primary care.

Our new campaign is to make sure that all GP practices are able to provide quality mental health support. Over the next few years we’ll be campaigning for:

  • local commissioners to improve the mental health support provided through primary care
  • improved mental health training for GPs and other primary care staff
  • better mental health and wellbeing support for all primary care staff

We want to campaign with all MPs to improve the mental health care that your constituents receive in your local GP practices. That’s what our new campaign is all about, and we invite you to join us to improve local services.

The Mental Health Taskforce

For too long, people with mental health problems have had to put up with second-rate, second-class services. This has affected lives and it has cost lives.

The Mental Health Taskforce, an independent group of experts chaired by Mind's CEO Paul Farmer, has produced a report and recommendations that will transform mental health care over the next five years. Now it's down to Government, the NHS and other organisations to get the job done.

Read our briefing for MPs on the Mental Health Taskforce

Other ways to get involved

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