Mental Health Reform Requires MPs' Support

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

Mental Health Reform Requires MPs' Support


Jonathan Morgan, Wales's Shadow Health Minister, says politicians in Westminster and Wales must join together to push forward proposals on mental health THE Assembly recently voted unanimously to back my proposal to transfer responsibility for certain aspects of mental health legislation to Wales through a legislative competence order (LCO).

The basis of my proposal is to enshrine in law specific patient rights. I believe that we should legislate to provide a right to assessment and treatment in a therapeutic setting before compulsion becomes the only safe option, and that those patients can get independent advocacy.

For many people who are ill, their mental health deteriorates to such an extent that detention is the only safe option. But for some, this can be tackled if earlier intervention and a right to treatment become standard.

Hafal, the charity for those with a severe mental illness, pointed out in its submission to us that around half of people who end up being treated against their will have asked for help before this point, but were denied it.

But giving people rights isn't enough. We need to ensure that those with a mental illness have access to advice and support. A right to independent advocacy would give that. We could give people real security and recognise that those with an acute mental illness deserve to be treated but often struggle to stand up for themselves.

The Mental Health Act 2007 provides for advocacy for those who are already detained, but there is no right to independent advocacy before compulsion. This is a substantial gap in the legislation.

Provided the Assembly agrees to my new law, we will need to convince MPs to back it at Westminster. …

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