UK government postpones the Mental Health Bill
The UK government has announced they plan to postpone the Mental Health Bill, which was supposed to reform the Mental Health Act 1983, improving the rights and care of people with mental health conditions.
This is a bitterly disappointing and frustrating decision. The UK government have significantly failed people living with mental health conditions.
The draft bill was published in June 2022, a culmination of several years of work, and was expected to be introduced to Parliament this year, however the government has now postponed this until after the general election in 2024 – this means the bill goes back through the whole legislative process again, with no guarantee it will be passed.
The current Mental Health Act is outdated, and is not person-centred, with parts of the Act being discriminatory. Some of the changes that were proposed include:
- giving people more choice over their treatment, including the right to refuse treatment or challenge a detention
- tightening the criteria for detention for assessment/treatment
- allowing people the right to nominate someone to act on their behalf
- reducing the use of restrictive practices such as seclusion (being isolated in an empty room), restraint or forced medication
- addressing the inequalities and racial discrimination that occures in the use of the Act, as Black, Asian and ethnic minorities are more likely to be detained and treated against their will
- improving the conditions in mental health units, and the quality of care, by providing adequate staffing and training
- providing better support and information for service users and their families/carers, such as access to advocacy or legal advice
We at Borderline Support UK CIC are disappointed and dismayed that the UK government have made this decision, and urge the government to reconsider and prioritse the Mental Health Bill, which is urgently needed to protect the rights and wellbeing of people living with mental health problems. Many people living with BPD have reported to us that they have had contact with inpatient services and have been failed time and time again.
The current Mental Health Act is not fit for purpose, and delaying this bill will only worsen the situation for people who are already vulnerable.
People with mental health problems deserve better from our government, showing little regard for the 50,000 who are people who are detained each year against their will and subjected to restrictive practices such as seclusion and restraint.
We urge everybody to use their voice and urge the UK government to bring back this bill as soon as possible: