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:

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  • 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...

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