Figures for 2020-21 released by the NHS have been labelled “concerning” by the mental health charity, Mind, considering the current Covid-19 mental health crisis.
National statistics for the number of people detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) for treatment have been published. The NHS report revealed that the number of people detained under the legislation has increased over the last year by 4.5%, and rates for detentions and Community Treatment Orders are still disproportionally high for Black and Black British people, at four times and ten times compared to White populations, respectively.
The Mental Health Act, the legislation that can require someone to be hospitalised if they are deemed a risk to themselves or others, is currently undergoing a process of reform. In the proposed update, patients are expected to receive a greater say in their care and appeal any detention order automatically.
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An explanation for the disproportionate over-representation of Black and Black British people in Mental Health Act detentions is that those specific communities are less likely to access early intervention psychological therapies and are more likely to be compulsory admitted for treatment.
Dr Frank Keating, in his 2002 report ‘Breaking the Circles of Fear', found that Black communities are more likely to have a firmly grounded fear and mistrust of services and are, therefore, more likely to resist seeking help and then, in turn, are overrepresented in crisis point pathways. The reforms to the Mental Health Act aim to tackle those care disparities and pilot culturally appropriate advocates for those detained.
The Spending Review will be hugely important in tackling institutional racism and creating services that treat patients with dignity and respect
Responding to the figures, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs at Mind, said: "It would be concerning at any time to see an increase in the number of people detained for mental health treatment, but it is even more troubling off the back of the pandemic when we know so many people have struggled with their mental health.”
“Crucially, people must be able to access mental health support early on so that they don’t reach crisis point. This is particularly important as one way of tackling institutional racism in the mental health system, which means a hugely disproportionate number of Black people are sectioned.”
"Equally important, when people do reach this point, they should be treated with dignity and respect, which current legislation used to detain people does not have at its heart. We, therefore, expect the UK Government to use tomorrow’s Spending Review to make sufficient investment in community mental health services, so people can get help when they need it, and in making its proposed reform of the Mental Health Act a reality.”