Pressure Builds Over Mental Health Proposals

Campaigners have upped the pressure on ministers to tackle hugely disproportionate detention rates within the mental health system. A letter in the Times, signed by a number of leading figures says the 1983 law that allows doctors to “section” people has led to “a crisis in black mental health.”

They point out that detention rates for African Caribbeans are 44 per cent higher than white British people.

Lord Carlile of Berriew, who chairs the Draft Mental Health Bill Scrutiny Committee, as added his name to the letter, which was organised by Matilda MacAttram of Black Mental Health UK.

Other signatries include Dr Richard Stone, who sat on the David ‘Rocky’ Bennett inquiry into the death of a man in a mental institution, and Professor Kwame McKenzie, a consultant psychiatrist.

The Times letter comes as the governments’ controversial new Mental Health Bill works its’ way through parliament. A number of MPs are believed to be gearing up to attack the proposed legislation which they fear will make discriminatory outcomes even worse.

The letter says: “This Mental Health Bill not only fails to address [recommendations of the Rocky Bennett inquiry] but will make matters worse.”

MacAttram commented: “This Bill will directly touch the lives of every black family in this country in the most negative way unless radically changed, and race equality principles are added to the face of the Bill.”