THE QUEEN’S SPEECH AND ASSOCIATED BACKGROUND BRIEFING
Introduction by the Prime Minister – “As we work towards a new Mental Health Act, we will review the mental health legislative landscape and publish recommendations on where new policy could provide greater rights for those experiencing mental health problems so they can live lives free from discrimination.”
HER MAJESTY’S MOST GRACIOUS SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
“My Government will reform mental health legislation and ensure that mental health is prioritised in the National Health Service in England.”
Reform of legislation
- The Mental Health Act 1983 sets out the legal framework in England and Wales for the treatment and detention of people with mental ill health, including when such action may be compulsory. The Act has not been fully updated for 34 years, although the Mental Health Act 2007 made changes.
- We have already acted when we have seen problems with the use of the existing legislation. This year the police powers of detention under the Act were amended, and the Government has worked to reduce by 80% the numbers of people being detained in police cells in England since 2011/12 because of their mental ill health.
- The Government will now begin to consider what further reform of mental health legislation is necessary, including changes in how the Act is implemented on the ground.
- As we work towards a new Mental Health Act, we will review the mental health legislative landscape and publish recommendations on where new policy could provide greater rights for those experiencing mental health problems so they can live lives free from discrimination.
- As we set out in our manifesto, our considerations will include:
- looking at why rates of detention are increasing and taking the necessary action to improve service responses;
- examining the disproportionate number of those from certain ethnic backgrounds, in particular black people, who are detained under the Act;
- reviewing the use of Community Treatment Orders, to see if they remain fit for purpose in helping people leaving hospital to receive better care and support in the community;
- considering how the rights of family members to get information about the mental health and treatment of their loved ones can be improved;
- ensuring that those with mental ill health are treated fairly, protected from discrimination, and employers fulfil their responsibilities effectively.
Making mental health a priority in the NHS
- It was this Government that gave parity of esteem to the treatment of mental health in the National Health Service. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health sets out our ambitious programme for further system reform.
- The Government has backed this with a significant increase in funding: since 2010, spending on mental health has increased to a record £11.4 billion in 2016/17, with a further investment of £1 billion every year by 2020/21.
- The Government will continue to invest in new and better services across the whole spectrum of mental health conditions. In particular, making further improvements in early intervention, investing in community services and expanding access to 24/7 crisis care support both in the community and in A&E.
- The Government will publish a Green Paper on Children and Young People’s Mental Health focused on helping our youngest and most vulnerable members of society receive the best start in life. This will make sure best practice is being used consistently and will help to accelerate improvements across all services so that children and young people get the right mix of prevention and specialist support.
- The number of detentions made under the Mental Health Act is rising – there were 63,622 uses of the Act in 2015-16, an increase of 9% on the year before, and up 47% compared to 2005-06.
- The further £1 billion a year committed by 2020/21 for mental health started to enter the system in April 2017. This will improve services – putting Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment teams on a 24/7 footing, making more mental health response teams available in A&E, and improving perinatal mental health.