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by Tom Freeman
24 September 2015
New compulsory mental health treatment at highest level in ten years

New compulsory mental health treatment at highest level in ten years

Compulsory treatment for mental ill-health rose last year by seven per cent, bringing the number of new episodes to its highest level since 2005.

According to a new report by the Mental Welfare Commission (MWC), there were 4,851 episodes of new compulsory treatment in 2014-15.

The rise is largely due to an increase in use of the 2005 Mental Health Act to admit older people to hospital. While numbers of emergency detention certificates for most age ranges dropped last year, they rose by 19.2 per cent for 65-84 year olds.

There is also large variations in how the law is being used between health board areas. In Greater Glasgow and Clyde only 28 per cent of emergency detentions had the consent of a mental health officer, as advised by the legislation, compared to 80 per cent in Tayside and 60 per cent in Lothian.

MWC chief executive Colin McKay said the reasons behind the rise were unclear.

“It could be due to increased diligence amongst doctors in using the legislation appropriately. That, in turn, could reflect greater awareness of patients’ rights and the need to avoid unlawful deprivation of liberty.

“Or it could be that with the increased emphasis on community care, people are more unwell when they need to come into hospital.”

Meanwhile the MWC also revealed 207 under-18s were admitted to non-specialist – mainly adult - hospital wards, a slight increase on the previous year. However there has been a cumulative rise of 40 per cent since 2008.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition called the figures “deeply disturbing”.

The MWC said it was concerned children were not getting access to education or age-appropriate support.

In August the Scottish Government announced a £1m investment from the £15m Mental Health Innovation Fund to deliver a three year NHS Education for Scotland programme to support the mental health workforce.

McKay said money alone will not solve the problem. “The Government and local boards need to look hard at what is causing young people to be placed in non-specialist services, and whether particular groups are not receiving the support they need,” he said.

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