Act for Mental Health - have a virtual chat with your MP
Have you had experience of the Mental Health Act? Maybe you or someone you love and care for has been detained under the Act? If so, there’s a strong possibility that you’d like to have your say about it.
If that is the case, one of the best ways you can do this is by meeting with your local MP, sharing your experience with them and explaining how you’d like the Act to change. To help you do this, we have created an easy-to-follow guide to setting up a virtual chat with your MP, which you can download here.
December 2020 will be the two-year anniversary of when the Review of the Mental Health Act was published, which featured 150 recommendations for change. We need MPs across the House of Commons to champion this issue now and as we approach December.
The reality is that many MPs – like most people – know relatively little about the Mental Health Act, the impact that it has on people’s lives or why it should be improved. The more we can help politicians to understand and care about reforming the Act, the better chance we have of achieving change that make a difference to people’s lives.
This is why we need people with experience of the Act to talk to your MPs about it and encourage them to do what they can to get the law changed. In person meetings are not currently taking place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is why we are encouraging people to have a virtual chat with your MP over Zoom, Skype or another online platform.
Read our guide for more information on how to have virtual chat with your MP.
Our main concerns about the Mental Health Act
- Patients’ involvement in their own care – the Act is the only piece of healthcare legislation which assumes that people cannot make meaningful choices about their own care and treatment. But evidence shows that being involved in the care and treatment you receive can lead to a much faster recovery and discharge from hospital, which can help people to lead an independent life back in their community.
- Rights and dignity – research conducted by Rethink Mental Illness for the Mental Health Alliance found that 61% of people previously detained under the Mental Health Act and 41% of professionals involved in treating them did not feel that people are currently treated with dignity when detained under the Act.
- Treatment of Black and minority ethnic people - Black people are four times more likely to be detained than White people and eight times as likely to face restrictions in the community under the Act. The Review recognises the role that bias and racism play and proposes changes to deliver greater equality and accountability for ethnic minority communities.
- Roles and rights of carers and loved ones – the way the Act involves carers, family and friends in supporting their loved ones needs to change. Currently, the “nearest relative”, who has some rights to be informed and involved, is selected from a hierarchical list of relatives. As family relationships can be complicated, this often results in inappropriate people being involved in decisions about the person detained.
Things to remember
- Be well prepared – read our guide to meeting your MP. If you want to do some extra reading on the Act, drop us a line at email@example.com and we can send you some useful documents.
- Make it personal – sharing your experience of how the Act has impacted on your life, either as someone detained under it or as a carer, is the most powerful way of making your MP take notice of what you’re saying. However, please only share your story to an extent which you feel comfortable with.
- Keep us updated – if you decide to set up a meeting with your MP, please let us know. We can provide you with extra support beforehand, and we’d love to hear after your chat how you got on.
- Take a photo – if you and your MP are happy to do this, please take a photo and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name and the name of your MP. Also share your photo on social media with the hashtag #ActforMentalHealth. Our twitter handle is @Rethink_
Any other questions? Please get in touch with our Campaigns Team by emailing email@example.com.