The Mental Health Act 1983 is a piece of legislation in England and Wales setting out when people can be detained and hospitalised for mental health treatment. Following on from an independent review announced in 2017 which stated that the Act did not work as well as it should do, the government published a White Paper in January 2021 on plans to change and update the Mental Health Act, and there is now an open consultation process on the proposed changes.

You can read our Plain Language Explainer on The Mental Health Act White Paper and Consultation here.

What is the consultation?

The Reforming the Mental Health Act consultation was opened by the government in January 2021 to ask people about their views on the government’s proposals for changing the Mental Health Act. The proposals follow the government’s White Paper which showed that there are lots of issues with how the Mental Health Act is working.

Find out more about the Mental Health Act consultation process and the government’s suggestions for reform in our plain language Explainer, available here.

Our response to the consultation

You can read our Easy Read Report here:

On 21 April 2021, we responded to the consultation on proposals to reform the Mental Health Act. We called for an approach to reform which recentres human rights. Click the image below to read our long submission, or or click here.

Our submission is grounded in evidence from people accessing, or trying to access, mental health services and their loved ones, and staff working in those services. Together with our partner organisation, NSUN (the National Survivor User Network), we ran interactive evidence gathering sessions and an online (Easy Read) survey giving people the opportunity to share their views and experiences of working with the Act or accessing mental health services. Our submission amplifies these voices:

  1. People: People accessing (or trying to) access mental health services, or who have previously accessed mental health services and their family members and people who care about them.

  2. Staff working in mental health: People with legal duties to respect and protect rights. This includes those working in mental health services (including private, charitable, or voluntary bodies) and advocates and campaigners working in the area of mental health.