Act for Mental Health - meet 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, chances are you have alot to say.
We are encouraging people with experience of the Act to meet with their MP. If this is something you're interested, we are here to help.
Read on for tips on everything from arranging your meeting to ensuring that it is successful.
Why meet your MP now?
After campaigning by Rethink Mental Illness and others, the Prime Minister announced an Independent Review of the Mental Health Act in late 2017, to look at how it is used and how it can be improved. The Act sets out when a person can be detained and treated in hospital against their wishes.
Over the course of last year, the Review heard from thousands of people who have been detained under the Act, including carers and loved ones. In December, the Independent Review published its final report with around 150 recommendations for change. We were really pleased to hear that the Prime Minister welcomed the final report and that the Government plans to bring forward a new mental health bill.
Despite this, 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 politicians that we can help to understand and care about reforming the Act, the better chance we have of getting the law changed and funding committed.
Read our guide to meeting your MP here.
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 - reseach conducted by Rethink Mental Illness for the Mental Health Alliance has found that 61% of previously-detained people, and 41% of professionals involved in treating them, felt that people are not currently treated with dignity when detained under the Mental Health Act.
Roles and rights of carers/loved ones - the way that 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 - we have produced a super easy to read guide to meeting your MP. Also if you want to do some extra reading on the Act before your meeting, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can send you some useful documents.
Make it personal - sharing your experience of how the Act has impacted your life - either as somone that has been detained under it, or as a carer - is the most powerful way of getting your message across. Please only share your story to the extent to which you are comfortable doing so.
Keep us updated - if you decide to set up a meeting with your MP, please let us know. We would love to hear how it goes and provide you with support beforehand.
Take a photo - if you are happy doing so, please take a photo and send it to us, feel free to share it on social media with the hashtag #ActforMentalHealth. Our twitter handle is @Rethink_
Read our full guide to meeting your MP here.
If you need futher support, please contact the campaigns team by emailing email@example.com