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Mind responds to Mental Health Act Annual Statistics

Thursday, 25 January 2024 Mind

Annual figures for detentions under the Mental Health Act in England, covering April 2022 to March 2023, have been published today by the NHS.

Under the Act, people with mental health problems can be detained in hospital (or 'sectioned') for treatment, including by the police. Once discharged from hospital, they can also be made to return, if they are given a Community Treatment Order (CTO).

The figures show:

  • 51,312 people were detained under the Act

  • This is nearly an eight per cent reduction compared to last year’s figures*

  • Black people were nearly four times more likely to be detained under the Act than white people

  • Black people were eight times more likely to face excessive restrictions through Community Treatment Orders

  • People from deprived areas were also nearly four times more likely to be detained for mental health treatment.

*The NHS has pointed out that data quality may have been impacted by a cyber incident between August 2022 and March 2023

Dr Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive of Mind, said:

“These numbers show that the mental health system is broken – far too many people are still reaching crisis before they get any support. The case of Valdo Calocane, dominating today’s headlines, is just one example of the pressures in the NHS and the need for services to work together.

“Many of the tens of thousands of people who were detained under the Mental Health Act tried to seek help earlier, but the lack of options for accessing care in communities and long waiting lists meant they became more unwell.

“The numbers also show just how deeply embedded racial injustice is in our society –while some improvement has been made, Black people are still less likely to get support for their mental health when they first start to struggle, and far more likely to be detained and subject to excessive restrictions.

“Politicians cannot afford to look away from this situation any longer.  We are calling on the UK government to urgently respond to recommendations made by a cross-party committee about how to fix the system. And whoever forms the next government must urgently prioritise overhauling the Mental Health Act.”

Freya, 21, was taken into care aged five and was first diagnosed with mental health problems aged seven. She was sectioned and admitted into a mental health ward in 2018 and has been in and out of the system for several years. During her time under section, Freya was sent far from home for treatment, experienced physical and chemical restraint, a lack of aftercare and was impacted by chronic understaffing in mental healthcare. She says:

“Sadly, not feeling heard was a common theme across the five different hospitals I’ve been made to stay in. I often felt that the way I was talked to and not listened to was demeaning. Just because someone is sectioned, it doesn’t mean that it is acceptable to make them feel that their views are wrong and don’t need to be heard.

“Out of all the people I have kept in touch with who were patients with me, more are still in hospital than discharged in the community. This shows that the psychiatric care is inadequate and failing young people. Improvements must be made for all age groups, but it is particularly important that these reforms include young people.”

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