The interim report of the independent Mental Health Act Review offers a welcome way forward for the prospect of more humane and responsive legislation fit for the twenty-first century, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said today.

“The Mental Health Act uniquely allows the state to detain and treat a person against their will. As the report acknowledges, this is sometimes necessary to save their life. But it is very often a traumatic experience and too many people say they are not treated with dignity or respect. And inequalities in the use of compulsory powers continue to be a major cause for concern.

There are no quick fixes to inequalities that are deeply ingrained in our society and that require action across government. But modernising the Mental Health Act to make it work better for people and reduce the risk of harm is an essential step towards equality for mental health.

“Sir Simon Wessely’s interim report begins to set out a range of changes to the Act and the way it is implemented that may help to address some of these concerns. There are no quick fixes to inequalities that are deeply ingrained in our society and that require action across government. But modernising the Mental Health Act to make it work better for people and reduce the risk of harm is an essential step towards equality for mental health.

“We hope the Review will develop clear and where necessary far-reaching proposals for reform, putting the rights and needs of people with mental health difficulties first at every step, and that the Government will act on its recommendations when it finalises its work later this year.”