Royal Assent of 2007 Mental Health Act comes with ‘health warning’ to black communities.

Royal Assent of 2007 Mental Health Act comes with

The controversial Mental Health Bill has received Royal Assent, from Her Majesty the Queen and so has now become the Mental Health Act 2007.
Widely condemned as reprehensible by human right and community groups the changes introduced within this new Act of parliament will, health experts have warned, pose real ‘dangers’ to black communities.

‘I think this will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of Black men who find themselves sectioned under the Mental Health Act as this new law allows many more health professionals to authorise forced detention. This adds up to licensed discrimination under mental health service provision,’ Lee Jasper chair of the African Caribbean Mental Health Commission said.
‘It’s a sad day for mental health in the UK especially from the BME view. It was clear from the advice from the Commission for Racial Equality and the Race Equality Impact Assessment Steering group that this Act will be discriminatory.
My worry is that it will drive a further wedge between MH services and black communities as the fear of forced treatment will keep people away from the services and so make the mental health of the Black community worse,’ professor Kwame McKenzie said.

‘This is clearly a missed opportunity and not in keeping with the Government stated intention of joined up legislation. I am disappointed that after over eight years of consultation we have legislation, which appears on the face of it will make things worse,’ mental health lawyer Chinyere Inyama said.

The Act recieved Royal Assent on Thursday 17 July 2007. Significant areas of concern are the introduction of CTOs (Community Treatment Orders), which will allow patients to be forcibly treated within in their own homes. The lack of a statutory right to advocacy until after detention and the widening of the numbers of professionals who can decide on who to put on CTOs.

‘It shows a lack of regard in relation to race equality. The Department of Health may say they are addressing this in policy when new law is completely at odds with it. It is a big blow and will affect the quality and care of service experience and is a significant step backwards for mental health services. The Act is a major step back for race equality and for community mental health in general’, professor Sashi Sashidharan said.

‘The most erudite minds within this profession have advised the Government on how these changes would impact on ethnic minorities when this Bill first went to parliament. They warned them that it is discriminatory, but they wouldn’t listen. The Commission for Racial Equality have made it public that this Bill will increase discrimination against black patients. But the Government would still not listen. We no have no option but to call for a judicial review of this Act in order to ensure we are not faced with many more tragic deaths in care like that of like David ‘Rocky’ Bennett,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.

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