Mental Health Act review

There's currently a government review of the Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983.

There are two surveys for mental health service users and for carers available through that page, which are closing in a couple of days. There will I believe be further chances to submit evidence over the next few months.

At the moment the Act follows the psychiatric establishment in seeing autism as 'disorder or disability of the mind'. This is elaborated in the current MHA code of practice, chapter 20. Addiction is excluded from the Act however (so to be blunt, the state can often try to stop you killing yourself, but not drinking yourself to death), and learning disabilities are excluded unless ''associated with abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct'.

  • Should autism be excluded in a similar way?
  • Do you know how many people are detained just on the basis of autism or learning disabilities?
  • Do you have any other experience or opinion on the Mental Health Act? What about advance directives, or mental capacity?

Some useful submissions already made:

  • Interesting.  Before my autism diagnosis, I was once Sectioned for 3 days after I tried to commit suicide through taking an overdose whilst in alcohol blackout.  I was Sectioned, rather than simply kept in hospital overnight and released in the morning (as had happened before), because I was picked up in a public place.  Basically, I'd gone downstairs and was sitting on the front wall - and when the ambulance arrived, I tried to run down the street.  So, as far as things were at the time, I wasn't diagnosed as autistic, I was intoxicated, and the only thing on my medical history was 'depression'.  Technically, drink was what had driven me to that state.  I wonder what part of all that really justified the Section...

  • It is a very tricky subject. If you look at all the possible symptoms an autistic person can display, it can be difficult to separate autism with various disorders of the mind.

    My own G.P.s point of view is that Asperger's is not a medical condition, but a development disorder with high potential for creating medical conditions. I sense that medically he's correct, I also sense that as an autistic person with an obsession for behavioural psychology and my general damn good gut instinct that my doctor has Aspergers. 

    My personal experience is that I spent a lot of my early life being extremely drunk to alleviate social anxiety and depression. From the outside, I've displayed symptoms of various disorders but on the inside I've just been scared, confused and frustrated. I don't really like any conversation where the subject is me. I tend to do a chameleon fallback in every situation, acting Bipolar was easier than finding the words to explain that my mood swings are entirely predictable to me...

    Honestly I think mental health and wellbeing is not really handled very well in the UK, I feel like the mental health act is some kind of safety curtain to cope with the fact that we are basically terrible at dealing with mental health. 

    My belief is that we should really be looking at care from another perspective, I do believe that if I manage my life into the right shape, then none of the negative attributes of Asperger's will develop into serious mental health issues or really affect me or anybody else much. Therefore I think considering it to be a mental illness is wrong.

  • Interesting but I don't have the time - I am not online at home or on my mobile - to complete the survey now. As you say lets hope there are further chances to submit evidence over the next few months.

  • Autism is more likely to lead to severe anxiety and depression I would say. I think it’s a difference in brain wiring rather than a mental disorder. I’m more capable than many of the NTs that I encounter. 

    I would hope that they wouldn’t think we don’t have mental capacity. I have an advance medical directive and it fills me with fear if I thought that they’d ignore it.