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The independent review of the Mental Health Act

Interim report

This independent review of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) was commissioned by the government in October 2017. Our terms of reference ask us to make recommendations for improvement in relation to rising detention rates, racial disparities in detention, and concerns that the act is out of step with a modern mental health system. We were asked to look at both legislation and practice, with recommendations extending to England in relation to matters that are devolved in Wales (including health), and England and Wales in relation to non-devolved matters (including justice).

This interim report summarises our work so far, and the priority issues that have emerged for further examination. We are just halfway through our work so these are early findings. We remain keen to engage with as many people as possible, and to examine all relevant evidence as we develop recommendations for our final report later this year.

Our ultimate goals have been set by our terms of reference to make recommendations for improvement in relation to rising detention rates, racial disparities in detention, and concerns that the act is out of step with a modern mental health system.

During the course of the review we will explore many opportunities for reform in detail. We have developed a set of more detailed goals to help guide our work. Our hope is that when faced with different options, these goals, we have developed will guide our work and remind us what we are ultimately aiming to achieve.

We have developed these goals by drawing on feedback from our service user and carers’ group, and our advisory panel.

Put simply, our overarching aim is to make the MHA work better for everyone. With that in mind, we will seek to achieve the following:

  • Service users and carers being treated with dignity and respect
  • Greater autonomy for people subject to mental health legislation
  • Greater access to services for those that need them
  • Making the least restrictive option appropriate to a person’s circumstances the default option
  • Improved service user and carer wellbeing
  • Service users and carers supported to be fully involved in treatment as possible
  • Reduced disparities between groups with protected characteristics
  • Greater focus on rights-based approaches
  • Reduced harm and improved safety for all
  • Professionals better able to deliver their expertise