In this piece for Tales from the Madhouse, Gary Sidley critiques the Mental Health Act as a form of legal discrimination against people deemed “mentally disordered” and explores several explanations for mental health providers’ apathy concerning this issue.
“A crucial assumption underpinning the MHA colludes with the myth that people suffering emotional distress and overwhelm are displaying ‘an illness like any other’ and that the primary cause of affliction is some underlying brain abnormality. Many (maybe the majority) of mental health professionals, particularly those who traditionally lean towards the biological end of the spectrum, may endorse the idea that internal deficits underpin mental health problems.
An acceptance of this ‘inherently defective’ model may lead professionals to collude with the idea that all those labelled with a ‘mental disorder’ do not possess capacity to make their own decisions and therefore require special legislation to manage and control them. In this explanation, mental health professionals may view the human-rights violations, intrinsic to the MHA, as a necessary measure to protect their patients and the general public; in their eyes, the current legislation is deemed fit for purpose.”