Mental Health Care In UK ‘Unsafe’

Many mental health wards in the UK are both “counter-therapeutic” and “unsafe”, a medical journal has claimed. Released in order to coincide with the passing of the mental health bill in the House of Commons earlier this months, a special report in the Lancet claims “all is not well” in mental health treatment in Britain.

{mosimage}The report and an accompanying editorial state that the psychological treatment in inpatient care and in the community remains “pitiful”. “Although there have certainly been some positive developments – for example, the bill now protects children from being put on adult wards – some critics are concerned that the legislation will infringe the rights of people with mental illness,” the editorial article says in reference to the new legislation.

The article also notes a survey by the Department for Health that showed UK residents were in favour of less tolerant methods of treating people with mental illnesses. It continues: “Ultimately, turning the tide of stigma and neglect that faces many people with mental ill-health will require a substantial shift in public and ministerial attitudes.”

The government has been attempting to reform the 1983 Mental Health Act for eight years after the brutal murder of Lin and Megan Russell by Michael Stone – a man previously identified with a long history of psychiatric problems – in 1996.

The controversial bill, turned away by parliament in 2002 and 2004, initially called for the detainment of mental health patients regardless of whether their condition was treatable.

Following an outcry from patient groups, however, the bill was altered to stipulate that incarceration was only a viable option if proven to be of therapeutic benefit.

Despite the Lancet’s warning today, the Mental Health Coalition, an influential group of 78 organisations including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Law Society and Mind, has already accepted the government’s bill.