People detained for mental health problems need legislation that protects them better, the Law Society of England and Wales said in its evidence to the independent review of the Mental Health Act 1983 (the Act), announced by Theresa May in her most recent party conference speech.
Neil Cronin of Southerns solicitors notes that the Law Society evidence makes a number of other recommendations about the Mental Health Act provisions as well as mental health treatment and services, including:
Treating anyone without their consent in the first three months of their detention – unless authorised by a second opinion appointed doctor (SOAD) – must be prohibited;
Children detained by parental consent do not have proper safeguards, such as a way to challenge their detention or treatment. There should be specific safeguards for children receiving in-patient psychiatric care;
The use of community treatment orders must be urgently reviewed. Patients in community settings are being paid cash to take their medication;
Prison inmates with mental health problems must be given the same level of care as anyone else.
Neil Cronin is the current Chief Assessor for the Law Society’s Mental Health Tribunal Panel.