Mental Health Act: detention and treatment disproportionately affects Black British people
In 2021-22, detention rates for Black British people were over four times those of white people
Annual statistics on the Mental Health Act have revealed Black British people are still disproportionately affected in terms of detention and treatment compared to white people.
Law Society vice president, Nick Emmerson, commented: “These statistics show why reforming the Mental Health Act must be a priority for the government”.
He said the current system means there is a risk that compulsory detention and treatment is used too often, and patients do not have enough involvement in decisions about their care.
Emmerson welcomed the government’s commitment to reforming the Mental Health Act and said the Law Society will support the introduction of new safeguards for patients refusing medication.
“These figures show why change must happen sooner, rather than later. There is also a need to ensure the Mental Health Tribunal is properly funded, given the increased role it will have under the government’s proposals,” he added.
In 2021–22, there were 53,337 new detentions under the Mental Health Act.
Detention rates for Black British people were over four times those of white people, while Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) – which require a person to receive supervised treatment in the community – were used for Black British people at 11 times the rate of white people.
The Law Society has called for the government to ensure those subject to a CTO still receive an automatic referral to the Mental Health Tribunal if they are recalled to hospital and kept there for treatment.
Emmerson added: “As well as facing higher rates of detention, Black British people experience poorer outcomes.
“The Mental Health Act should be used in the least restrictive way possible and people who are detained against their will should have their views and choices respected.
“We are monitoring the progress of the Draft Mental Health Bill and will work to ensure this vital legislation enables patients to have a greater say in their care and ensures access to justice by enabling people to challenge inappropriate treatment.”