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Mental Health Bill 'must be amended'

6th February 2007

05102006_mentalhealthward1.jpgThe proposed Mental Health Bill could put vulnerable people at risk, lock up people who are not mentally ill and keep patients from their families, say peers.

The controversial bill, which is currently with the House of Lords, has attracted repeated criticism over how it deals with and defines mental illness.

The legislation allows for detention of people with mental illness, even if they have not committed a crime. It also aims to strengthen enforcement of therapy on release.

In January peers backed a move to ensure psychiatric patients who can easily make decisions are able to refuse treatment. Now the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), has called for a raft of further amendments.

In it’s report, the committee has raised concerns over how the legislation could be interpreted. Grounds for detention will change from ‘a true mental disorder’ to ‘any disorder or disability of mind’. This could be used to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality, including people wanting sex change operations or those who have unusual sexual fetishes, said the report.

It also fears health services could remove difficult or challenging relatives, through a clause which allows patients to remove their appointed ‘nearest relative’, for example, in cases where there is alleged abuse.

The legislation, reportedly driven by Michael Stone's 1998 conviction for the murders of Lin and Megan Russell, must only impose treatment ‘primarily to protect health’, said the report.

And they want to ensure objective medical expertise must be used in deciding on detaining someone under the act, each time it is invoked.

The bill also needs additional safeguards for those patients who are force-fed, kept in seclusion or given electro-convulsive therapy.

Peers have also called for the removal of one clause in the bill that states MPs must resign if they suffer a mental health breakdown. Recent research has suggested that as many as 60 MPs have suffered mental health problems.

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Wednesday 7th February 2007 @ 16:52

If this bill is allowed to go through many more vulnerable people will be detained against their will...
this violates our human rights...this bill is about power and control ...not about therapeutic care... it is barbaric and must be stopped...the government and media are causing stigma and discrimination...they incite the public into believing that those who have been bruised by life are dangerous...
this bill is about the protection of the public and not about the care of the patient...in short this is a bill out of the home office rather than the health department...the new act needs to be written by us for us...those who have used services and their carers have first hand experience of what is necessary...this new act should be about respect and dignity...and receiving the services we deserve, desire and choose...
there are only 30,000 psychiatric beds left in this country…we are entitled to a safe place where these services can be delivered...and not a police cell which is so often the case...this bill will allow ANYONE to be contained and treated against their will… this gives the authorities power over every citizen no matter their ethnicity, creed or religion…unless you are an MP and elite then their sectioning process is different...

If you want to stop the draft mental health bill and agree with the above please sign this Petition…

“bruised uk?


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Article Information

Title: Mental Health Bill 'must be amended'
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 1945
Date Added: 6th Feb 2007


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