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by Tom Freeman
20 March 2019
Mental health act review announced

Clare Haughey - Scottish Parliament

Mental health act review announced

Scotland’s mental health laws are to be the subject of an independent review, it has been announced.

In a statement to MSPs, mental health minister Clare Haughey said the 2003 Mental Health Act would need to be updated to ensure a human rights approach is used.

In particular, when a person is judged to have incapacity and forced to have treatment is to be reviewed, to complement work already under way on the law surrounding such decisions.

The 2003 act was designed to reduce compulsory detention and treatment, but the practice still goes on.

The announcement was welcomed by mental health charities and opposition MSPs.

Announcing the review, Haughey said: “The Scottish government is absolutely committed to bringing change to people's lives and ensuring that mental health is given parity with physical health.

“As part of the review we want to gather views from as wide a range of people as possible and I am determined to ensure that the views of service users, those with lived experience and those that care for them are front and centre so they can help shape the future direction of our legislation.”

Judith Robertson, chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said: "People's rights are affected by mental health laws in many ways, including whether they can exercise choice and control over their own care and treatment, how their liberty is affected and their rights to health.

"The Commission has called for a comprehensive review of mental health legislation for some time. We have expressed concerns about whether current legislation is effective at protecting and promoting the rights of those who need support with their mental health.

“We therefore welcome this review as an important opportunity to ensure that any new mental health legislation contains the right safeguards and provisions to protect people's rights as fully as possible.

 “We particularly welcome that the review will focus on improving compliance with the full range of people's rights, including the UN Disability Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.  Importantly, it will also consider the role of incapacity legislation which presents similar challenges in realising people's human rights.”

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