At a time when people are faced with unprecedented restrictions in their lives, spare a thought for those who are detained under a section of the Mental Health Act (MHA) here in the United Kingdom.
Such a person can be detained if:
(a) he is suffering from mental disorder of a nature or degree which warrants the detention of the patient in a hospital for assessment (or for assessment followed by medical treatment) for at least a limited period, and
(b) he ought to be so detained in the interests of his own health or safety or with a view to the protection of other persons.
A new twist is now in place that makes detention under the MHA much easier. A piece of proposed legislation called the Coronavirus Bill, received Royal Assent on 25 March, which means it is now law in the UK. It goes under the name of the Coronavirus Act 2020.
Under the new Act, one psychiatric opinion is all that’s required to make an application to detain a person in a psychiatric unit. Applications previously required two opinions. This clause goes hand-in-hand with easy-seizure laws that are consistent with psychiatric detention.
Like many other aspects of the MHA, this new power granted to those who make decisions to detain others is open to abuse.
For anyone who knows about the work of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), they will already be aware of the punitive nature of the psychiatric industry and the treatments that are used. Whether it’s the damaging effects of mind-altering psychiatric drugs or electroshock treatment, they are aware of the damage that can result from enforced treatment.
While there may be a school of thought that suggests making complaints or writing to the Government is pointless, that school of thought, when traced down, may be found to be complicit in the practice of enforced detention and enforced treatment.
Therefore, it’s important for you to know that your voice is valuable; it may even be the only hope for a vulnerable person forced into psychiatric treatment. You are being invited to write and express your concerns about the new easy-seizure clause. You can write to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock MP, at the following address:
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries Unit
Department of Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0EU
You can also follow the link given at the bottom of the page, to the Department of Health website and complete an online form to register your concerns about this matter.
As well as writing to the Department of Health, you can send a copy of your letter to your Member of Parliament.
Here is the wording from the new Coronovirus Bill which relates to this issue:
Easing the burden on frontline staff, both within the NHS and beyond
In the NHS and in other sectors who undertake activities that are vital to keeping the country running safely and securely, we may also face particular increased pressures as a result of staff absence or increased work volumes. This could include those caring for children or in education, protecting our borders, detaining and treating people under the Mental Health Act, supporting local authorities and ensuring national security. By reducing the number of admin tasks they have to perform, allowing key workers to perform more tasks remotely and with less paperwork, we will enable these crucial services to continue to operate effectively during periods of reduced staffing.
To support this the bill seeks to:
enable existing mental health legislation powers to detain and treat patients who need urgent treatment for a mental health disorder and are a risk to themselves or others, to be implemented using just one doctor’s opinion (rather than the current 2). This will ensure that those who were a risk to themselves or others would still get the treatment they need, when fewer doctors are available to undertake this function
temporarily allow extension or removal of time limits in mental health legislation to allow for greater flexibility where services are less able to respond. These temporary changes would be brought in only in the instance that staff numbers were severely adversely affected during the pandemic period and provide some flexibility to help support the continued safe running of services under the Mental Health Act.”
Remember; silence can often be interpreted as acceptance. You can make a difference to someone who otherwise doesn’t have a voice.
Contact the Department of Health: https://contactus.dhsc.gov.uk/
Contact your Member of Parliament: https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons
Brian Daniels is the executive director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights in the UK (CCHR UK)
CCHR has been investigating and exposing psychiatric human rights violations, abuses and crimes since 1069
Visit CCHR UK now for more info
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