Review of the Mental Health Act: final report

December 6, 2018

The Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983 has set out recommendations for Government on how the Act and associated practice need to change.

The review looked at:

  • Rising rates of detention under the Act.
  • The disproportionate number of people from black and minority ethnic groups detained under the Act.
  • Processes that are out of step with a modern mental health care system.

The final report recommends four principles that should underpin the reformed Act. These include:

  • Choice and autonomy – ensuring people's views and choices are respected.
  • Least restriction – ensuring the Act’s powers are used in the least restrictive way.
  • Therapeutic benefit – ensuring people are supported to get better, so they can be discharged from the Act.
  • People as individuals – ensuring people are viewed and treated as rounded individuals.

Responding to the final report of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, Paul Jenkins OBE, Chair of the Mental Health Network, said, 'We welcome the recommendations in this important review. We hope these will help to increase choice and provide alternatives to detention following years of rises in detention rates.

'The review rightly acknowledges that the experience of people from black African and Caribbean heritage of mental health services is too often one of exclusion or detention. Restricting someone’s liberty should always be a last resort. Putting this right requires all of us taking steps to ensure we close the gap in terms of inequalities in access and outcomes. We look forward to working with colleagues on this important issue and await the Government's response in due course.'

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, said, 'It’s good to see mental health finally getting the focus that it deserves. The report makes some important recommendations about how to bring the Mental Health Act up to date and give people a stronger say in their treatment. It’s positive that the review listened to local government and recognises the role of community mental health services in preventing people from reaching crisis point in the first place.

'The LGA has consistently called for a re-focus in mental health services away from medicalisation and treating mental ill health to early intervention and support for recovery through integrated community based services.

'However, for many years mental health services at all levels have been reduced despite rising demand. This report has issued a timely call to action for Government to focus on prevention and we urge Ministers to follow through with much-needed investment in community mental health services.

'Councils are keen to work with the Government to help improve the mental wellbeing of all of our communities. With local government facing an overall funding gap of £7.8bn by 2024/25, councils need adequate funding for the full range of services, such as housing, leisure, social services and public health, which contribute to mental wellness and play an essential part in the mental health system.'

President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Glen Garrod also commented, saying, 'ADASS has been pleased to be involved in this review. The recommendations in this report are welcome as a contribution to the modernisation of this country’s mental health services, which are about giving people who need these services more control and the specific support they need.

'Good mental health services are required both in and outside of hospital settings, and involve housing, primary and community health services and adult social care.

'Social work and personal care and support are essential components of good services to support mental wellbeing, and can include ensuring people have somewhere to live, have safe and supportive relationships, and support with income and employment.

'We look forward to working with colleagues across health and social care to consider how the review’s recommendations will complement the priorities of the adult social care Green Paper and the NHS Long-Term Plan, and then to implement the plans together. It is essential that the health and care system works together to deliver integrated care for those who need health and care services.'

The full final report of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act can be found on the GOV.UK website.

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