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‘Reforming the Mental Health Act’: implications of the Government's white paper for the management of patients with eating disorders

  • Peter Webster (a1), Ulrike Schmidt (a2) and Janet Treasure (a3)
Extract

Patients with severe anorexia nervosa have a high mortality and relapse rate, yet specialist services and practitioners are few. A significant minority need detention with involuntary treatment. Furthermore, the mean age at presentation is 16 years, where detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 or parental consent is unclear and variable. This article addresses the implications of the proposed new Mental Health Act for people with eating disorders. The main issues are those of incapacity, assessment procedures, community detention, detention in 16–18-year-olds, implications for carers and resource implications. We hope to show that eating disorders, just like other illness categories, have special needs that cannot be blanketed under one process and that the Act has positive features, but also presents significant concerns.

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Copyright
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.
References
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Crisp, A. H., Norton, K., Gowers, S., et al (1991) A controlled study of the efficacy of therapies aimed at adolescent and family psychopathology in anorexia nervosa. British Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 325333.
Department of Health (2000a) Reforming the Mental Health Act White Paper – Part 1 ‘The new legal framework’ and Part 2 ‘High risk patients’. London: Department of Health.
Department of Health (2000b) Reforming the Mental Health Act White Paper – Summary. London: Department of Health.
Law Commission (1995) Mental Incapacity (Law Commission Report 231). London: Law Commission (http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/library/lc231/contents.htm).
Mental Health Act Commission (1997) Guidance on the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa under the Mental Health Act 1983 (Guidance Note 3 issued August 1997) pp. 16. Nottingham: Mental Health Act Commission.
Page, L. A., Sutherby, K. & Treasure, J. L. (2002) A preliminary description of the use of relapse prevention cards in anorexia nervosa. European Eating Disorders Review, 10, 281291.
Radcliffes Solicitors (2000) Radcliffes Mental Health Law Briefing No. 34, London.
Rather, G. (1998) A plea against compulsory treatment of anorexia nervosa patients. In Treating Eating Disorders: Ethical, Legal and Personal Issues (eds Vandereycken, W. & Beaumont, P. J. V.), pp.179215. London: Athlone Press.
Royal College of Psychiatrists (2001) White Paper on the Reform of the Mental Health Act 1983. Letter from the Chair of the College's Public Policy Committee. 13 June 2001. Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Szmukler, G., Dare, C. & Treasure, J. (1995) Handbook of Eating Disorders. London: Wiley and Sons.
Sullivan, P. F. (1995) Mortality in anorexia nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 10731074.
Zipfel, S., Reas, D., Thornton, C., et al (2002) Day hospitalization programs for eating disorders: a systematic review of the literature. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31, 105117.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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‘Reforming the Mental Health Act’: implications of the Government's white paper for the management of patients with eating disorders

  • Peter Webster (a1), Ulrike Schmidt (a2) and Janet Treasure (a3)
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