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Mental health legislation is now a harmful anachronism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

George Szmukler*
Affiliation:
Bethlem and Maudsley NHS Trust, Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AZ
Frank Holloway
Affiliation:
Bethlem and Maudsley NHS Trust, Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AZ
*
Correspondence
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Two recent developments have served to highlight the contradictory and discriminatory nature of UK mental health legislation, and indeed all ‘mental health’ acts. These are the Court of Appeal ruling in L. v. Bournewood (1997) and the increasing use of coercion in an attempt to alleviate society's fears of the dangers posed by the mentally ill in the community (Holloway, 1996). At the same time, a third development, the proposal for a Mental Incapacity Act, and the consequent Government Green Paper (Lord Chancellor's Department, 1997) Who Decides provides a framework rendering mental health legislation redundant.

Type
Review Articles
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BY
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Copyright
Copyright © 1998 The Royal College of Psychiatrists

Footnotes

See invited commentaries pp. 666–670, editorial 657–658, this issue.

References

Campbell, T. (1994) Mental health law: institutionalised discrimination, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 28, 554559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Campbell, T. & Heginbotham, C. (1991) Mental Illness: Prejudice . Discrimination and the Law. Brookfield, VT: Dartmouth.Google ScholarPubMed
Halpern, A. & Szmukler, G (1997) Psychiatric advance directives: reconciling autonomy and non-consensual treatment. Psychiatric Bulletin, 21, 323327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Holloway, F. (1996) Community psychiatric care: from libertarianism to coercion. “Moral Panic” and mental health policy in Britain. Health Care Analysis, 4, 235243.3.0.CO;2-I>CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Law Commission (1995) Mental Incapacity (Law Commission Report No. 231). London: HMSO.Google Scholar
Lord Chancellors Department (1997) Who Decides? Making Decisions on Behalf of Mentally Incapacitated Adults. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
Rosenman, S. (1994) Mental health law: an idea whose time has passed. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 28, 560565.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
L. v. Bournewood Community and Mental Health Trust ex parte L (1998) 1 All ER 634.Google Scholar
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