Draft mental health bill retains fundamental flaws, and is worse than the current act, according to the Mental Health Alliance

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The largest group of mental health organisations ever formed, the Mental Health Alliance, responded to today's draft Mental Health Bill by accusing the Government of not listening to their concerns.

The Mental Health Alliance, a group of more than 50 major voluntary organisations, service user groups, service providers, and professional organisations, has worked very hard with Government to develop positive changes to the Mental Health Act to improve services, but is disappointed to see little change to the proposals set out in the White Paper.

The Mental Health Alliance, which includes The King's Fund, recognises that the government wants to improve on the old Mental Health Act of 1983, but there are key elements of this Bill that will actually make mental health services worse: 

  • It will 'backfire' as more compulsory detentions and forced treatments in the community will drive people away from seeking services. The new criteria for compulsion are far too wide
  • There are no rights to services – which means people will still be turned away from services when they need them
  • Essential safeguards for detained patients are missing.

The Mental Health Alliance will continue to work with the government throughout the consultation period to press for change so that the best opportunity in a generation to introduce a new and improved Mental Health Act that will meet the needs of service users and carers is not missed.

Notes to editors

For interviews with Mental Health Alliance spokespeople and service users contact Mind's Press Office on 020 8522 1743. Spokespeople available for interview:

Paul Farmer, Chair of the Mental Health Alliance
Richard Brook, Chief Executive Mind
Gillian Mullins, UKAN
Gil Hitchin, Chief Executive MACA
Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive SANE