Bar Council: Reform of Mental Health Act is chance to enshrine equality

In its response to the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation paper on reforming the Mental Health Act, the Bar Council (which represents all barristers in England and Wales) has called for a commitment to equality and welcomed proposals to limit detention.

  • A commitment to equality should be enshrined in the MHA and the MHA Code. People from ethnic minority communities and those with learning disabilities or mental illnesses face inequalities of access, experience and outcomes, as well as inappropriate detention. (para 9)
  • Proposals addressing the disproportionate adverse impact of the mental health system on black and minority ethnic communities are welcome. (para 120)
  • The Bar Council calls for an integrated system that takes into account the ways in which mental ill-health may intersect with race, faith, gender-identity, gender, class and sexual orientation.  (para 124)
  • Detention under the MHA should become the exception rather than the rule. The Bar Council supports proposed changes to criteria that mean individuals would only be detained if there is a substantial likelihood of significant harm to the individual or others. (para 13)
  • The replacement of nearest relative with a nominated person is a positive step for those detained. The Bar Council “strongly agrees” with the nominated person being given the additional proposed powers of consultation, appeal and objection. (para 35)

Read the entire response here. Please contact me with any questions.

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