Mental Health Act 1983 — [Ms Karen Buck in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:30 pm on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark 1:30 pm, 25th July 2019

I completely agree. Sadly, the figure for people with schizophrenia in work remains at about 5%. It is just 5%, because the support simply is not there and the medication and treatment are not there on a routine basis to ensure that they are able to work.

Figures suggest that one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some point in life, often because of bereavement or a relationship breakdown. I pay tribute to all the organisations involved in the Time To Change campaign, which has done brilliant work to challenge the stigma and discrimination that affects people with mental health conditions in employment and elsewhere.

The change in language and awareness of conditions is one reason to seek reform now. For example, the Mental Health Act 1983 is defined as:

“An Act to consolidate the law relating to mentally disordered persons.”

The language around mental health has changed much since the current law was enacted. We also need to consider its far reaching powers.

The independent review of the Mental Health Act, published seven months ago concluded:

“The Mental Health Act gives the state what are amongst the most significant powers that it has;
the power to take away someone’s liberty without the commission of a criminal offence and the power to treat that person even in the face of their refusal. Because of that, we think that is important that the purpose of the powers is clear, as should be the basis on which they should be used.”

It is hard to disagree with that conclusion, especially given the number of people who are affected by those extensive powers.