Still a long way to go, say Mental Health Bill campaigners

16 February 2007

The Mental Health Bill enters report stage in the House of Lords this Monday with some concessions from government but in need of much more amendment, the Mental Health Alliance said today.

Mental Health Alliance chair Andy Bell said:

"We are pleased that the Government is starting to listen and by the concessions that have been made so far. People should not be detained under mental health law unless there is a likelihood treatment will help them. The Government has gone some way to acknowledging this by stating that treatment should have the purpose of helping the person.

"But the Bill still contains too many new powers to detain people and use compulsion outside hospital without adequate safeguards. Until we see changes to the proposed community treatment orders and the broad definition of mental disorder, the Bill remains unacceptable.

"The Alliance will continue pressing the Government to make this Bill better. We need to see a Bill with clear principles, with rights to advocacy for those detained and a right to choose which relatives are consulted when people are detained.

"This is one of our last opportunities to fight for legislation that really benefits the thousands of service users who will be affected, their carers and the public. After eight years of campaigning and consultation on this legislation, we hope that at last we shall soon see a fair and balanced Bill."