Mind responds to damning report on detentions and treatment of young people with learning disabilities and autism in mental health hospitals

Friday, 01 November 2019 Mind

Today The Joint Committee on Human Rights has released a damning report about children and young people with learning disabilities and autism being detained in mental health settings.

The report is urging Government to overhaul mental health law and tighten hospital inspections.

The Committee is rightly calling for urgent change for young people with learning disabilities and/or autism. These recommendations should also apply to people with mental health problems, and we need to see action for anyone at risk of being detained in these conditions. They include:

• Government leadership to minimise detentions and safeguard human rights
• Legal duties to provide enough community-based services
• Stronger individual entitlement to support
• Tighter detention criteria
• Treatment closer to home and support for families to visit
• Unannounced inspections ‘out of hours’.

Responding to the report, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, says:

“This report highlights the awful treatment faced by many children and young people with learning disabilities and autism at the hands of those meant to be caring for them. We know people with mental health problems who are locked up in mental health hospitals also face this kind of treatment, often being restrained or given inappropriate medication. The fact that anyone could go into a place which is meant to be a place of safety to receive care and support and be at risk of leaving more unwell is unforgivable.

“Children and young people receiving treatment or support in a mental health hospital must to be treated with dignity and respect in a safe, therapeutic environment, and must be close to their communities or networks, who can be instrumental in recovery or returning to the community. We welcome the recommendations made in this report, which parallel the urgent need for Mental Health Act reform to support anyone who is detained under the Act as a result of their mental health.

“Mental health must be a priority for the NHS and the next Government. We know that too often, young people who need support - including those experiencing a mental health problem - are being let down. When people don’t get their needs met in the community or in hospital it can become a vicious circle that leads to restraint and seclusion that could have otherwise been avoided. Whoever forms the next Government must commit alongside the NHS to improving mental health wards, staffing and training for staff as well as putting in place the recommendations made in last year’s Mental Health Act review, to better support people who find themselves in these settings.”

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