Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Opposing increased coercion in reform of the Mental Health Act

I have been looking at some minutes from when the Critical Psychiatry Network first started meeting in January 1999. A 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.


cobweb said...

Why is Simon Wessley chairing this? - he doesn't have much of a record of welcoming open debate. Did members of the Alliance have any say?

DBDouble said...


Theresa May asked him. Is Theresa May's motivation anything to do with human rights?!

Best wishes, Duncan

cobweb said...

Thanks as ever for your blogs Duncan they are very valuable especially in their commitment to openness. re Theresa May - she doesn't know the meaning of a human being never mind human rights. best wishes susanne

Anonymous said...

Simon Wessley stated in an interview 1/05/18 on BBC R4 midday news that he was so out of touch that he is surprised by the extent of the problem regarding the massive increase in sectioning ..especially of 'black' men. How on earth did he think it appropriate to take the Chair of the Commission when he claims to be so ignorant of the situation which is so well known across the UK. In Lambeth where his wife, who contributed to the interview,practices, after decades of revealing how the psychiatric services are racist and discriminatory without any action being taken to improve the situation, yet another Black and other Ethnic group has set up their own facility where people can receive suport and advice from those they can trust and who are able to understand that attitudes of so many health workers contribute to the over diagnosis and detention of non white individuals. S W flagged up a solution as being more prevention to avoid incarceration - he didn't spell out what exactly he meant. He and his wife who speaks on behalf of GPs are great advocates of drug treatments although unusually Clare Gerada did admit she knows some people have bad experiences of taking them - but then rather insultingly qualified that by saying people 'claim' to have been harmed . Hopefully the other members of the committee will not just roll over. susanne