Mental Health Act white paper signals reform
13 January 2021
The government will today unveil a white paper, setting out its plans to reform the Mental Health Act. This will be the first time the act has significantly changed since 1983.
Here's the reaction of our CEO Mark Winstanley to the news:
“The publication of the White Paper to reform the Mental Health Act is a hugely significant milestone in a long struggle for change. The White Paper sets out a vision and direction for the reform of mental health inpatient services, law and practice. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Many people will take for granted their right to have choice and control over the medical treatment they receive. But thousands of people every year who are severely affected by mental illness and who are detained under the Act lose those rights and temporarily their liberty. The proposals set out in the White Paper, all informed by the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, give real hope for a more person-centred and principled Mental Health Act.
“Specifically, we're pleased to see a clear emphasis on improving outcomes for the disproportionately high number of Black people and people from other ethnic minorities who are detained under the Act. We're also pleased with increased patient involvement in treatment plans, improved carer and family involvement, and greater legal weight for advance decision-making.
“Despite its faults, the Mental Health Act is a lifesaving piece of legislation. It protects people when they are very unwell. But now nearly 40 years old, it is desperately out of date and doesn’t reflect how a modern society thinks about mental illness. The White Paper is a big step towards change. In the coming days and weeks we will be encouraging people that have been affected by the Act or who may be in future to respond to the consultation, and will be engaging with our supporters and beneficiaries in the hope of seeing major reform to the Mental Health Act in the near future.”
What is the Mental Health Act?
If you have severe mental illness, you might be held under the Mental Health Act. This is sometimes called ‘sectioning’. We explain why you may be detained, and what rights you have.
Find out more What is the Mental Health Act?
A step towards change
For Rethink Mental Illness, the Mental Health Act white paper isn’t just the culmination of several years of campaigning, It’s also the beginning of a transition towards meaningful change
Find out more A step towards change
Our work on the Mental Health Act
Rethink Mental Illness has been campaigning to improve the Mental Health Act since the 1980s. Read our blog about the work we have done so far and what we still need to do.
Find out more Our work on the Mental Health Act