The Mental Health Act
Mental health law is about securing benefits for, and protecting the rights of people with mental disorder with the primary objective to make sure individuals can receive effective care and treatment. The Mental Health Act (1983) is a significant statutory framework for anybody working within mental health, providing a framework for decision making, by providing a logical format in which balances the law and legal values in order for a mental health worker to reach a decision of action. It defines the circumstances in which a person suffering from a mental health condition can be detained for treatment without their consent. To make sure that people with mental disorders get the care and treatment they need for their own health or safety or for the protection of other people. As The Department of Health overview states: The main purpose of the legislation is to ensure that people with serious mental disorders which threaten their health or the safety of the public can be treated irrespective of their consent where it is necessary to prevent them from harming themselves or others. (DOH, 2007) The Act sets out the criteria that must be met before compulsory measures can be taken, along with protections and safeguards. The importance of this Act is to ensure people with an effective service with boundaries and laws to protect vulnerable individuals, maximising their safety and well-being and protecting them from harm. It also allows practitioners guidance, to ensure good professional practice of their duties, roles and responsibilities. Such as procedures on compulsory admission, rights and safeguarding and the codes of practice they are expected to follow required by the Act. The importance of the Act provides such professionals with guidance on how to respond to situations and act in accordance to their expected role to prevent unfair treatment, inappropriate detainment and discrimination. For hundreds of years the response to what are now called mental health issues and problems has mainly been to separate people from others, often subjecting them to strange and punishing ‘treatments’. Such a policy resulted in a history of abuse, and the loss of people’s rights and freedom. There have been many changes in policy and provision for mental health services over the last 20 years. This has included changes in the way services are organised, the kinds of services available, where they are provided and the workers involved. Over this time, there have been especially important changes from policy makers such as the introduction of the Mental Health Act. The Act saw the introduction of approved mental health workers, who are more skilled and have specialist training, equipped with working within the field, allowing professionals different ways of understanding and responding to situations. This has caused a shift from the medical model and allowed a more holistic approach to be taken, allowing for a more person-centred service. Mental health services have historically been service-led and medically focused and have not always placed the wishes of the user at centre stage. The introduction of this act and the broader group of practitioners involved has brought a focus of being person-centred that encompasses much more than medical treatment, but responds to the needs of service users in a way that meets the multiplicity of individual needs. Resulting in a service that protects the rights and promotes the interests of service users, highlighting rights such as personal freedom and providing more specialist services.
2.2 Evaluate the principal strengths and weaknesses of the Mental Health Act As discussed the Mental Health Act has brought about many changes to services available and impacted the way they are organised. Such as the introduction of deprivation of liberty safeguards protecting individual’s rights and opinions. The introduction of a broader group of practitioners who have brought different...
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