Proposed reforms to mental health law (‘outdated’ mental health laws in England and Wales are due for review on May 6) are long overdue. The MHA was designed for the detention of mentally ill people who are at risk of harm to themselves or others due to a defined mental disorder, so that they can receive treatment.
It is outrageous that people with autism and learning disabilities are detained when there is no evidence of mental illness. The disproportionate number of black people detained and placed on community treatment orders has been evident for many years, but inequalities remain, with little evidence of serious change. It remains a shocking indictment of detention processes.
The involvement of detainees to have a greater say in treatment preferences is welcome. However, without serious attention to the crisis in access to mental health services, the quality of many services, and unsafe staffing levels, services will struggle to act on these preferences.
Professor of Mental Health Sciences, London South Bank University