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Reforms to mental health services are long overdue | Letters



The proposed reforms of the Mental Health Act (‘Antiquated’ mental health laws in England and Wales set for overhaul, 6 May) are long overdue. The MHA was designed for the detention of people who are mentally unwell and at risk of harm to themselves or others by virtue of a defined mental disorder, to enable them to have treatment.

It is scandalous that people with autism and learning disabilities are detained when there is no evidence of mental disorder. The disproportionate number of black people being detained and subject to community treatment orders has been evident for many years, yet the inequities remain, with little evidence of serious change. This remains a shocking indictment of the processes of detention.

The involvement of those detained to have a greater say in treatment preferences is welcome. However, without serious attention to the crisis in access to mental health services, the quality of many services and the unsafe staffing levels, the services will be hard pressed to act on these preferences.
Patrick Callaghan
Prof of mental health science, London South Bank University


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