'My Government will reform mental health legislation and ensure that mental health is prioritised in the National Health Service in England.'

In June this year, the Queen’s Speech included the statement above which appeared to commit to working ‘towards a new Mental Health Act’, with a review of the current legislation and the implementation of the Act on the ground, rather than the rumoured Mental Health Treatment Bill announced by Theresa May earlier in the year.

We see this as an opportunity to strongly advocate for a rights-based Mental Health Act and investment above and beyond NHS provided services. The voluntary sector and local authorities need to be sufficiently resourced to support people and respond to a whole range of issues that negatively impact on the wellbeing of communities.

At the end of June the Mental Health Alliance published a report of the Mental Health Act survey 'A Mental health Act fit for tomorrow - An agenda for reform'

As a member of the Mental Health Alliance, NSUN welcomed the possibility of research that was designed to gather views on the principles of the Mental Health Act particularly from those who use mental health services. Before the publication of the report NSUN strongly emphasised the need for further research to be undertaken before the completion of this study and circulation of the report, to ensure that those most affected by the Act were adequately represented in the report.

Unfortunately the report was published regardless and NSUN decided not to endorse the report for the following reasons:

  • Although people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities are particularly likely to be detained and made subject to compulsory treatment, only 8% of the 61% of respondents who supplied demographic details came from BME communities. In addition, numbers of BME respondents with personal experience of detention were too small to be statistically significant
  • 70% of respondents who named their gender were female. Therefore, men were seriously under-represented amongst respondents.
  • The conclusions drawn about the numbers of respondents who supported detention under the Mental Health Act appear to be overstated.
  • Please read our related article (NSUN unable to endorse MHA report)

Sample letter to your MP

If you agree with our concerns we urge you to complete the sample letter below and send it to your MP. Of course you may want to write your own letter on the subject.

We have tried to make it as clear and precise as possible so provide full links to further information lower down.

Here is a copy with full web links (to print as hard copy)

Here is a copy with hyperlinks (to use digitally)

You just need to add your local MP's name in place of 'MP NAME' and your name and contact details in place of the words 'YOUR NAME AND CONTACT DETAILS'.

It is useful to include your postal address amongst the contact details; MPs may want to be sure that you live in their constituency.

If you want to find out who your MP is, if you don’t already know, go to http://www.parliament.uk/business/commons/ and type in your postcode in the Find Your MP box on the right hand side of the page and it will show you who your MP is.

Your MP may have their own website where you can find out more about them and their concerns and interests.

You may also be able to follow them on Twitter.

Another useful website is https://www.theyworkforyou.com/ where you type in the name of your MP and the issue and it will show you all the statements they have made on that subject.

When you get a reply please send it (or a copy) to:

NSUN, 27-29 Vauxhall Grove, London, SW8 1SY

You can send a scan or photo of the letter to [email protected] 

Further useful references

  1. The INTAR web link International Network for Toward Alternatives and Recovery and INTAR India Reflections Paper web link https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/06/intar-india-2016-reflections/ for NSUN members who would  like evidence that people with lived experience who advocate alternatives to a medical model and a rights-based approach are not limited to the UK, but are part of an international movement
  2. The 2015 report from the Special Rapporteur as evidence from the UNCRPD dating back to 2015
  3. The UNCRPD List of Issues as a source of evidence that the UNCRPD is challenging the UK government right now about the need to draw on evolving concepts of disability, improve its human rights approach and bring detentions and compulsory treatment to an end
  4. The UNCRPD submission which I collated on NSUN's behalf as further evidence of NSUN's stance about the sorts of issues that are set out in its Manifesto, including alternatives to a medical model, improved anti-discriminatory approaches and an end to detentions and compulsory treatment