Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, welcomes the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) bill passing through the House of Lords – which means it now just needs Royal Assent before becoming law.
Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive of Agenda says: “We are delighted that this Bill has passed through the House of Lords and will soon become law. This bill has the potential to change lives and may even save them.
“Our research shows that women and girls are restrained at disproportionate rates – with an alarming number dying after being restrained.
“When this bill becomes law it will be a vital first step in ensuring that the regular and repeated use of physical restraint against all patients, but particularly women and girls, comes to an end.
“More than half of women who have mental health problems have experienced abuse – so not only is restraint frightening and humiliating it also risks re-traumatising them.
“This Bill’s measures to introduce training for mental health staff will help them understand the impact of trauma on a person’s mental health and help them de-escalate situations without having to resort to force.
“Mental health units are meant to be caring places for patients feeling at their most vulnerable. We hope that following the introduction of this Bill we will move closer to this truly being the case and restraint will only ever be used as a last resort.”
The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill is also known as ‘Seni’s Law’, named after Olaseni Lewis who died after 11 police officers restrained him in 2010.
The Private Member’s Bill was brought forward by Seni’s MP Steve Reed and is backed by several organisations including Agenda, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Young Minds and Inquest.
Agenda would like to thank its supporters for all their campaigning on this issue, including raising awareness and writing to their MPs to help progress the bill through Parliament.
Research published by Agenda in the run up to the Bill’s Third Reading in the House of Commons in July found 32 women died following restraint over a five year period.
A previous report from Agenda showed that one in five women and girls were physically restrained in mental health units.
Our Women in Mind campaign is calling for women and girls’ mental health to be made a priority and action taken to ensure they get the support they need, when they need it.