More People Than Ever Before Being Detained Under Mental Health Act

The number of detentions under the Act rose to 47,400 for the 12 months to March 2006, from 46,700 the previous year. Formal admissions rose to 27,400 in 2005/06 from 26,800 in 2004/05, surpassing the previous peak of 26,900 in 1998/99.

According to the Government Statistical Service, 95% of all formal admissions in 2005-2006 were to NHS hospitals. Others have included high-security psychiatric hospitals and independent hospitals.

Meanwhile, the number of place of safety orders involving assessment in hospital increased by 16%, from 5,100 in 2004-05 to 5,900 last year. Court and prison disposals remained level but have fallen by over a fifth since 1995/96.

Reacting to the announcement, Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: “These highest-ever figures show the difference between Government predictions and the reality of those experiencing mental health services. Surely now the Government will look again at applying the necessary safeguards to the current Mental Health Bill to ensure that compulsory treatment is only focused on those who need it.

“Resources need to be directed to the front line – helping people when they first need it, not waiting until they reach crisis state.”