Rethink Mental Illness responds to proposed reform of Mental Health Act

10 May 2022

In the State Opening of Parliament today, it was announced that the government will publish draft legislation to reform the Mental Health Act. The Mental Health Act allows for people experiencing a mental health crisis to be detained and treated in hospital. 

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said:

“We cannot overstate the importance of the Mental Health Act and the need to reform it urgently. Every year thousands of people who are experiencing a mental health crisis are detained and treated under the powers of the Act. It undoubtedly saves lives, but it also removes many fundamental rights that most people take for granted. It has long been argued by people who have been detained under the Act and their loved ones that the law, while necessary, should afford people more choice, dignity and involvement in their care. That reform is now a step closer will be a cause for celebration.

“The proposed commitment in the White Paper to address racial inequality is one example of why this legislation is so vital. Efforts to tackle the disparity in detention rates and outcomes for people from minority ethnic backgrounds must be prioritised to ensure the law does not discriminate. The adoption of new guiding principles is another example of a real opportunity to improve how people are treated during a mental health crisis, enhancing their rights, treating them as individuals, and increasing their choices around their care.

“Reform is the result of years of campaigning, but while we celebrate this milestone it is important to acknowledge some details are still to be finalised. We will continue to put pressure on the government and opposition parties to ensure the Bill progresses through parliament, remains informed and true to recommendations from people with lived experience, and receives the vital funding needed to support its implementation. If we achieve this we will have made a tangible difference to improve people’s experience of care.”