Mental Health Act Review: Will We See Meaningful Change?


From Tales from the Madhouse: In fall 2017, the UK government an Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, inciting hope for radical revision of a discriminatory law. However, closer inspection of the review reveals that it is not likely to bring about meaningful change.

“The review is chaired by Professor Simon Wessely – a psychiatrist and former president of the Royal College of Psychiatry – and, predictably, his intention seems to be to steer the range of stakeholders away from anything that might disturb the status quo. In a blog about the review for The Huffington Post, he regurgitates the language of biomedical psychiatry – ‘serious mental illness,’ ‘very unwell’ – thereby showing no recognition of the desirability of capacity-based laws (applicable to all and requiring no explicit reference to the dubious construct of ‘mental disorder’) as an alternative to the existing discriminatory legislation. In the same blogpost, Wessely also suggests that changing the legislation may be less important than changing ‘the way we deliver care’ – an ominous sign that he sees the MHA as broadly fit for purpose in its present form.”

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