Publication date: 29 May, 2020
The Commission has a statutory duty to monitor the use of the Act, and a duty to provide advice on the use of the Act.
This response is informed by the Commission’s own experience of meeting those duties and responsibilities. It is also informed by people with mental illness and relatives/carers who have shared their experiences with the Commission.
Key points from the Commission’s response to the consultation include:
From a lived experience and relative/carer’s perspective, issues include:
Dr Arun Chopra, medical director, Mental Welfare Commission, said:
“We had been calling for a substantive review of this legislation for some time, and we very much welcome the Review’s aim to improve the rights and protections of people who may be subject to the law when receiving care and treatment.
“Mental health legislation can restrict and deprive a person of their liberty and can impose treatment that they do not want or cannot consent to. Traditionally one purpose of legislation was to ensure that people who are unwell are treated to restore them to health and reduce any risks that their altered state of health might pose to their safety and that of others. A further purpose was to ensure that when someone is made subject to detention or treatment that they cannot or do not consent to, that there is a mechanism for this detention to be reviewed, and safeguards are in place to ensure that people are treated in accordance with their human rights.
“Developments in International law would suggest that a Mental Health Act ought to go further and focus on the restoration of other rights that are impinged on by the presence of disability (such as serious mental illness).
“The Review of Scotland’s Mental Health Act gives us a great opportunity to fully consider those developments, alongside the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which came into force after our current Act.
“Scotland’s legislation can be re-framed in such a way that the human rights of people with serious mental illness are clearly are the centre.’
‘While reviewing the Act is vital, it will only be effective if it is adequately resourced. We ask that resources are considered at all key stages of the Review.”
The Commission will be seeking opportunities to discuss and share this response with others over the coming months.
Dr Chopra added: ‘The Commission would like the review to consider how a new Act might give emphasis so that any action taken under Act must be proportionate and that there is a duty of reciprocity to ensure that people who are subject to the Act or who have been, are able to receive the support and services they need for their recovery.'
Listen to Dr Chopra's summary here (4 mins, audio):