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Equalities and Rights Equalities and Rights

Introduce a new Mental Health Bill which puts parity of esteem at the heart of treatment

Last updated: 10:29am 21 January 2019

So we will introduce the first new Mental Health Bill for thirty-five years, putting parity of esteem at the heart of treatment.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.57

Our verdict

The Mental Health Act 1983 is the main piece of legislation covering the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health disorder. If someone with a mental health disorder requires urgent treatment, or if they represent a danger to themselves or others, they can be detained (known as being “sectioned”) under the provisions of the Act.

In 2017-18, 49,551 new detentions under the Mental Health Act were recorded, with detentions and Community Treatment Orders disproportionately affecting those identified as “Black or Black British”.

The manifesto acknowledges various problems with the current operation of the Mental Health Act, and this policy is a promise to introduce new legislation to rectify those problems and put mental health care on an equal footing with physical health care.

On 4 October 2017, the Prime Minister announced plans for an independent review of mental health legislation and practice, and the review’s terms of reference were published.

In December 2018, the review published its final report containing 154 recommendations. The government responded by announcing that it would introduce a new Mental Health Bill and accepted just two of the review’s recommendations.

This policy is a pledge to introduce a bill. The government has again promised to do that, but the first significant evidence of progress would be publication of a green paper or a white paper outlining the proposed legislation. There’s no sign of either yet.

We’re marking this as ‘in progress’. Once the bill is introduced, we’ll consider moving this pledge to ‘done’. But first, we’ll need to consult with independent organisations in the mental health sector as to whether the proposed changes to the law are likely to put “parity of esteem at the heart of treatment”. Follow this policy for developments.

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