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Rise of 4.1% in compulsory mental health treatment in Scotland

18 December 2018

The Mental Welfare Commission today reported 5,647 new episodes of compulsory treatment for mental health in 2017/18 in Scotland - a 4.1% increase on the previous year.

This is the highest number since the 2003 Mental Health Act was implemented, and follows an upward trend since 2009/10.

The Commission has a statutory duty to monitor the use of mental health legislation, and in 2019 will publish a full statistical monitoring report with data, comment and analysis as it seeks to understand the reasons for the continued rise in the use of the law to treat people with mental illness.

This year's report shows the data, including variations between health board areas, without comment and analysis. A copy of the report is available here.

Colin McKay, Chief Executive of the Mental Welfare Commission, said:

"We are concerned to note the continued rise in the use of the law to treat people for mental illness, particularly the use of emergency detention. We hope to work with Scottish Government in future years to improve our understanding of the reasons for this."

Notes to editors:

1. Until 2017, the Commission published a full statistical monitoring report every year. In order to better understand the reasons behind the rising figures, the Commission has decided to publish that full report every second year, and focus on reviewing some more in-depth areas on the use of the Act in alternate years, while continuing to publish the data alone in those years. This year it published a report on Police Scotland's use of Place of Safety Orders.

2. There are three routes to compulsory treatment -

Emergency detention certificates (EDCs) are designed to be used only in crisis situations to detain a person who needs urgent care or treatment for mental ill health. They can be issued by any doctor and allow someone to be kept in hospital for up to 72 hours.

The preferred route to compulsory treatment is through short term detention certificates (STDCs). They can only take place if initiated by a psychiatrist and a mental health officer (a specialist social worker).

Compulsory treatment orders (CTOs) are granted by the Mental Health Tribunal, following an application including two medical reports and a proposed care plan, from a mental health officer. They can last up to six months and can be extended for a further six months, then for periods of up to 12 months at a time.

Mary Mowat - 0131 313 8786