Least restriction and supporting people to be discharged from Mental Health Act detentions are principles at the heart of a proposed revamp of mental health law.
What is described as major reform will tackle use of the Act to detain people with learning disabilities and autism, and disproportionate detention of people from BAME communities.
A new White Paper paves the way for consultation on a number of proposed changes to use of the Mental Health Act, including:
- Introducing statutory ‘Advance Choice Documents’ to enable people to express their wishes and preferences on their care when they are well, before the need arises for them to go into hospital
- Piloting culturally appropriate advocates so patients from all ethnic backgrounds can be better supported to voice their individual needs
- Ensuring mental illness is the reason for detention under the Act, and that neither autism nor a learning disability are grounds for detention for treatment of themselves
- Improving access to community-based mental health support, including crisis care, to prevent avoidable detentions under the Act. This is already underway backed by £2.3bn a year as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
The White Paper represents plans to introduce the first new Mental Health Bill for 30 years.
Since 2015, there has been a 29 per cent reduction in the number of people with a learning disability and autistic people in a mental health inpatient setting. The government has established the £62m Community Discharge Grant to make further progress on discharging people with learning disabilities and autism from inpatient care. The proposed changes in the legislation will help to further reduce reliance on inpatient care.