James has welcomed the launch of a white paper for reforming the Mental Health Act, to make it fit for purpose in the 21st century, giving people more autonomy over the care they receive and tackling disparities for those accessing services.
Following an independent review of the Mental Health Act carries out by Sir Simon Wessley in 2018, existing legislation will be modernised and patients will be put at the centre of decisions about their care. The introduction of ‘Advance Choice Documents’ will enable people to express their wishes and preferences for care when they are well, and they will have a right to choose a ‘Nominated Person’ to look after their interests if they are unable to do so themselves.
As part of the recommendations the Government is already investing over £400m to eradicate dormitories in mental health facilities and ensure that they provide modern and genuine therapeutic environments. There will also be measures to tackle the disparities faced by BAME people with mental health issues, with the piloting of culturally appropriate advocacy services where needed, and changes to the way that people with learning difficulties and autism are treated under the law.
A 28-day time limit will be imposed for those in prison, whose primary issue is their mental health, to be transferred to hospital, ending unnecessary delays and ensuring they receive the support they need. Judges will work with medical professionals to ensure defendants can be taken straight from a courtroom to a healthcare setting, ending the outdated practise of using prisons as a ‘place of safety’.
“I welcome these much-needed reforms that have been published, which I am sure will be welcomed by healthcare professionals and service users alike" said James. "I have taken a keen interest in mental health since becoming an MP and I am pleased that it is now being given parity with physical health.
“I previously chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health where we explored some of these areas around mental health policy and called for reform, so it is very pleasing to see the recommendations of this review coming to fruition following the Government’s commitment to take action. I want to thank Sir Simon Wessley and his team for the work they have put in.The Covid 19 restrictions have put a great strain on mental health for many people over the past year, and a strain on those who provide treatment. By beginning this process of reforms we can begin to build a provision for mental health support that is modern, sustainable and fit for purpose.”
Further information of the Government’s white paper is available at Reforming the Mental Health Act - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)