Homepage Latest news Continuity and change, but always putting the individual first

Continuity and change, but always putting the individual first

Publication date: 16 Jun, 2022

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland marked its 60th anniversary at a Scottish Parliament reception on Thursday 16 June, 2022.

Thursday’s reception was hosted by Gillian Martin MSP. Kevin Stewart, minister for mental wellbeing and social care, was key speaker, and Adrian Ward MBE, expert on incapacity law, gave an international perspective on the Commission’s role and responsibilities.

While the Commission’s history can be traced back to the 19th Century, it came into existence in its current format in 1962, with one of its primary roles being the discharge of patients from large, long stay institutions.

Much has changed in that time, but the core focus of the organisation remains protecting and promoting the rights of people with mental ill health or incapacity.

A new short film on the history, current work and future focus of the Commission was also published, along with a series of podcasts created by historian Professor Rab Houston featuring Karen Martin from the Carers Trust Scotland, and current and past mental health and legal professionals.


Gillian Martin, MSP said:

“The Mental Welfare Commission has adapted to the huge shifts in attitudes to mental ill health and learning disability, and to changes in care. 
“Because of that adaptability, the Commission remains a core part of the mental health landscape in Scotland; flexible and focused. At times of increasing pressure across the health service and across the economy, we need organisations that can deliver for our communities, shining a light on good practice that can be shared quickly, and reporting on poor practice, calling for change, where change is needed.”

Kevin Stewart, minister for mental wellbeing and social care, Scottish Government, said: 

“It’s only right that we recognise the pivotal role that the Commission has played, over many years, in promoting a society where people with mental illness, learning disabilities, dementia and related conditions are treated fairly, have their rights respected, and have the necessary support to live the life of their choice.  
“This commitment to make a positive contribution demonstrates the value of the Commission and why 60 years on, with its wealth of experience, it remains very much at the heart of improvements in both policy and practice to safeguard those who need more support, to prevent things going wrong but, that if they do, ensuring that lessons can be learned for the future.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Commission across a range of issues. By working in partnership with stakeholders and those with lived experience we will continue to develop and enable the human rights of the most vulnerable in our society."

Sandy Riddell, chair of the Mental Welfare Commission, said:

“Reflecting on our 60 years, there are elements of both continuity and change.
“Change in the way services are delivered, and we’ve adapted to that. But continuity in that the Mental Welfare Commission has always approached it from the individual first. For the future, we are intent on increasing our work in the community, and building our team of people with lived experience.”