Should Scotland’s Mental Health Laws Apply to People With Learning Disabilities?


With Scottish legislators in the midst of debating a new Mental Health Bill, a proposed amendment to the bill would subject certain provisions of Scotland’s use of forced mental health treatment to review, according to The Herald Scotland. Currently, not only people diagnosed with mental disorders but also people with learning disabilities and autism can be forcibly treated under Scottish mental health law, and proponents of the amendment are trying to rally public support for a review of those provisions.

“Tabled by Jackie Baillie MSP, the amendment would insert a binding commitment to review the position of people who have learning disabilities, under the Mental Health Act,” reported the Herald. “(The charity Enable Scotland) says that people with learning disabilities have been promised a review for over a decade, but are still waiting. Many believe they should not be subject to mental health legislation and the parliament’s Cross Party Group on Learning Disability has also expressed collective concern that people with learning disabilities are not always well served by Mental Health Legislation.”

On, Fiona Sinclair of the group Autism Rights, a supporter of the amendment trying to rally more public support for it, writes that, “The Act applies to people with `mental disorders`, which incorporates mental illness, personality disorder and Learning Disability, `however caused or manifested`… (A)t the last count, 42 per cent of men with Learning Disability who were being compulsorily treated within the mental health system did not have a mental illness. The percentage of those women with Learning Disability who fell into this category was 15 per cent.”

According to Sinclair, “The absence of any data or monitoring of people with (autism spectrum disorders) within the mental health system means that we don’t know how many people with ASD are subject to compulsory `treatment` under the Mental Health Act and how many are forced to take drugs, for how long, what drugs these are and what side effects they experience…”

Call for review of mental health laws (The Herald Scotland, June 22, 2015)

Autism and the madness of the Mental Health Act (, June 16, 2015)


  1. “people with learning disabilities are not always well served by Mental Health Legislation.”
    No one is well served by the Mental Health Legislation. I love how people love coercing others to “treatment” as long as they don’t end up on the receiving end.

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