On Wednesday 4 October 2017, it was announced that RSM President Professor Sir Simon Wessely has been appointed by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, as Chair of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983.
The government has commissioned the review amid concerns surrounding rising rates of detention under the act; disproportionate numbers of people from black and minority ethnicities being detained, and processes that are out of step with modern mental health systems.
The purpose of the review is to understand the causes of these issues and make recommendations aimed at improving the treatment and support people receive when experiencing acute mental ill-health.
Writing in The Huffington Post, Sir Simon said it will be a complex task: “The Mental Health Act goes to the core of the relationship between the individual and the state.”
It is not just about legislation, he added, but “changing the way we deliver care so that people do not need to be detained in the first place.”
“Succeeding in this requires us to properly understand what it is like to live with a mental illness, to struggle to stay well, to deal with both acute and chronic adversity, and to live with the risk and reality of having your liberty taken away. And furthermore, should this happen, are we doing all we can to still respect a person’s dignity, and ensure that support and treatment really is delivered to the highest possible standard.”
Sir Simon Wessely is Regius Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London, and consultant psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital. He practises liaison psychiatry – looking at the overlaps and boundaries between physical and mental health.
Further information about the review of the Mental Health Act 1983 is available to read on the www.gov.uk website.