In the speech today, among other things, Her Majesty the Queen said:
“My Government will reform mental health legislation and ensure that mental health is prioritised in the National Health Service in England.”
Today, the Government said that their considerations about the Mental Health Act will include:
- looking at why rates of detention are increasing and taking the necessary action to improve service responses;
- examining the disproportionate number of those from certain ethnic backgrounds, in particular black people, who are detained under the Act;
- reviewing the use of Community Treatment Orders, to see if they remain fit for purpose in helping people leaving hospital to receive better care and support in the community;
- considering how the rights of family members to get information about the mental health and treatment of their loved ones can be improved'
- ensuring that those with mental ill health are treated fairly, protected from discrimination, and employers fulfil their responsibilities effectively.
In response, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the mental health charity Mind, said:
“We welcome the Government’s proposals to reform mental health legislation, including the Mental Health Act. Being detained under the Act is one of the most serious things that can happen to someone in terms of their mental health and, at over thirty years old, the current legislation is outdated and not in line with the principles of modern health care.
“In the last ten years in England, we have seen a 47% rise in the Mental Health Act being used to detain individuals, with BAME people disproportionately affected. These figures show that neither the Act, nor wider mental health care, is working as it should to support people when they are unwell.
“Changing the Mental Health Act is a mammoth task and needs to be done properly, in full consultation with people with lived experience and in line with the recommendations of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. People who are at their most unwell need choice, control and dignity and they need legislation to support that.”
On the continued prioritisation of mental health in the NHS in England
The Government said:
- The Government made a commitment to ‘parity of esteem’ - treating mental health and physical health equally in the National Health Service. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health sets out our ambitious programme for further system reform.
- The Government has backed this with a significant increase in funding: since 2010, spending on mental health has increased to a record £11.4 billion in 2016/17, with a further investment of £1 billion every year by 2020/21.
- Going forward, the Government will continue to invest in new and better services across the whole spectrum of mental health conditions. In particular, making further improvements in early intervention, investing in community services and expanding access to 24/7 crisis care support both in the community and in A&E.
- The Government will publish a Green Paper on Children and Young People’s Mental Health focused on helping our youngest and most vulnerable members of society receive the best start in life. This will make sure best practice is being used consistently and will help to accelerate improvements across all services so that children and young people get the right mix of prevention and specialist support.
In response, Paul Farmer said:
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to prioritising mental health in the NHS and following the recommendations of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which set out an initial plan to improve mental health care in this country. Mental health services have been underfunded for decades and for too long, those of us with mental health problems have had to put up with second-rate, second-class services, with two-thirds of people with common mental health problems still not receiving any treatment or support at all. This is not acceptable, we want to see everyone experiencing a mental health problem getting the treatment and support they need, when they need it.
“The last Government accepted all of the recommendations to come out of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. Now, the key is the delivery, so that we can see change on the ground. We also need to see a commitment that goes beyond these first five years to take us closer to putting mental health on an equal footing with physical health. We will be keeping a close eye on the quality of mental health services and holding the Government to account on the commitments made today.”