Recommended changes to the Mental Health Act 1983 fall well short of full human rights. 


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During 2017-18 there was a Review of the Mental Health Act. This resulted in a detailed report Modernising the Mental Health Act: Increasing choice, reducing compulsion which contains a series of recommendations about improvements to the Act. It has been important to recognise the need for legal change. However, the Review recommendations fall well short of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the recommendations for the UK Government which the Convention’s Committee made in 2017 (Concluding observations (2017) CRPD/C/GBR/CO/1 ).

For example, the model used in the Review is a predominantly clinical (diagnostic) model, not a human rights one; a legal principle of autonomy is recommended, but not an end to compulsory detention in hospital;  people assessed as ‘having capacity’ (but not others) would have a statutory right to say what treatment they want to receive in hospital, but capacity assessments are notoriously unreliable and clinicians would be able to overrule people in any case; the recommendations rightly cover people from black and minority ethnic communities, people with learning disabilities/difficulties and young people, if with flaws; however, the recommendations have almost no focus on disadvantages arising from other factors such as gender, sexual orientation and older age.

For that reason, the National Survivor User Network, a user-led organisation, together with a wide range of other user-led organisations, individuals with mental health diagnoses and allies, is campaigning for recommendations and legal change which fully comply with human rights set out under the UNCRPD.

What we are campaigning for

  1. A human rights model of mental distress
  2. An equal say for user-led groups about any changes to law, policy and practice
  3. The same human rights for people with mental health diagnoses as anyone else has
  4. A strong focus on everyone with lived experience who faces more than one form of discrimination, marginalisation and/or social disadvantage
  5. A community-based approach and wide-ranging community services; these will include user-led, non-clinical and culturally appropriate options on a much increased scale
  6. Access for everyone to statutory advance choice decisions that include the right to rule out detention in psychiatric hospitals and community treatment orders, as well as involuntary treatment
  7. Access, as needed, to supported decision-making and peer advocacy
  8. An end to substitute decision-making, sectioning, involuntary treatment and community treatment orders
  9. Input for people with lived experience and carers about rights set out in the UNCRPD
  10. Similar input for politicians, commissioners, service providers and academics.

For more information, or to add your/ your organisation’s name to our campaign, please urgently contact Dorothy Gould at [email protected].

We would so much value your support.