On Thursday 6th November, the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act published its final report and recommendations.
Jessica Southgate, Policy Manager at Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, says:
“We welcome the Mental Health Act Review’s emphasis on alternatives to detention, and the need for investment in community support to reach patients before they are in crisis. This is particularly important for women and girls, for whom detention can be particularly distressing and even retraumatising.
“We are pleased to see the Review recommend alternatives to the ‘Nearest Relative’ model, which under current provisions may enable abusive partners or relatives to have a say in patient care, putting women and girls at particular risk.
“We are concerned, however, at a lack of gender-specific approach to the Review more broadly. Figures obtained by Agenda from the CQC show women’s self-inflicted deaths outnumbered men’s for the first time in 2015, and did so again in 2016.
“More than half of women with a mental health problem have experienced violence and abuse. Yet this is often not taken into account when they are detained, resulting in care that fails to meet their needs and can even make situations worse.
“If we want to see patients detained under the Mental Health Act get the support and treatment they need, we need to see women and girls’ specific experiences – including of trauma and abuse – understood and integrated into all levels of their care, including and especially when they are in crisis.
“We hope to see Government adopt the proposals of the Review, and ensure women and girls’ needs and experiences are fully taken into account in this process.”
Read Agenda’s Women in Crisis report, on women’s experiences of detention under the Mental Health Act.