paper was written before the meeting by Phil Thomas and Pat Bracken because of concerns about the potential for coercion increasing in the context of the reform at the time of the 1983 Mental Health Act (MHA) (see my website at the time, now essentially defunct because of dead links, but maybe these need to be resurrected). Initially the group was called the 'Bradford group' after the city in which the first meeting took place. At the 6th meeting of the group in October that year the name 'Critical Psychiatry Network' was adopted to reflect the fact that the group had taken on wider critical psychiatry concerns.
As mentioned in a previous post, my edited book Critical psychiatry: The limits of madness came out of three conferences that I organised for the Critical Psychiatry Network (CPN) in 2001-2003, to which I added four chapters. What I suggested in my first chapter was that "although critical psychiatry has its roots in anti-psychiatry, it does represent an advance over the polarisation in the debate about psychiatry engendered by anti-psychiatry" (p.3) (see my chapter in the book on 'Historical perspectives on anti-psychiatry'). In my last chapter, I summarised where CPN had got to by 2006 (see extract), just before the MHA was amended.
More recently Pat and Phil have reflected on where critical psychiatry is now (see previous post). This is relevant, considering that the MHA is again currently under review (see another previous post). There are concerns that people’s dignity, autonomy and human rights are overlooked (see report from Mental Health Alliance, from which CPN resigned when it looked as though the Alliance was going to compromise on the introduction of CTOs, which essentially proved to be the case). I have had no response to an email to the Chair of the Mental Health Alliance about this situation, nor does the Alliance, I guess like a lot of organisations, seem to have responded to the formal request for evidence from the Independent Review. Still, I have managed to find responses from Agenda, the Law Society, Faith Action, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a response coordinated by the
Centre for Mental Health, Prison Reform Trust, and Together for Mental Wellbeing. Although the Review's website says that it is still open to submissions of evidence, I have not had a response to my email asking for confirmation that it is not too late to submit evidence. There does seem to be a question about how open this review, chaired by Sir Simon Wessely, has been before a report with recommendations is produced in the autumn.