Today, the Mental Health Act White Paper has been published – detailing once in a generation proposals to reform the Mental Health Act.
Gosport MP, Caroline Dinenage, who was Minister of State for Care 2018-2020 and contributed to the early stages of this work, was updated by the Health Minister, Nadine Dorris this morning. Caroline was re-elected in 2019 by Gosport Constituents on a manifesto that promised to reform the Act. During her two years in the Department of Health and Social Care, she worked to improve the experience of detained people with learning disabilities and/or autism and has welcomed the recommendations of the White Paper.
Proposals outlined today include:
- Helping empower individuals and give them more control over their treatment
- Ensure that people from BAME backgrounds are not disproportionately in detention
- Improve how people with learning disabilities and autism are treated by UK law
- Improve access to community-based mental health support
The changes build on recommendations made in 2018 by an independent review of the Mental Health Act by Sir Simon Wessely which highlighted disparities in treatment. The review found that: “there is unacceptable overrepresentation of people from black and minority ethnic groups amongst people detained; and people with learning disabilities and or autism are at a particular disadvantage”.
Today, Caroline commented that:
“1 in 4 of us experience some form of mental health problem each year. Yet, while we can go to the hospital or GP to fix our broken bones, it is not as simple to address our mental health issues.
“With the ongoing pandemic, now more than ever we need to ensure that we look after not only our body but also our mental health.
“These proposals look to address the inequalities in our system and provide better care to the millions across the country, and those in the Gosport Constituency, who need support.”
Throughout the pandemic, she has been regularly signposting residents across Gosport, Hill Head, Stubbington and Lee-on-the-Solent to mental health support on social media. Her website includes a dedicated page on mental health advice.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said:
“I want to ensure our health service works for all, yet the Mental Health Act is now 40 years old. We need to bring mental health laws into the 21st century. Reforming the Mental Health Act is one of our central manifesto commitments, so the law helps get the best possible care to everyone who needs it.
“This is a significant moment in how we support those with serious mental health issues, which will give people more autonomy over their care and will tackle disparities for all who access services, in particular for people from minority ethnic backgrounds.”