Coronavirus: mental health and social care

Mental health: what happened?

The Mental Health Act needs urgent reform – but the Coronavirus Act has made a bad situation worse.

The worrying parts of the current law include the length of time people can be held, the use of restraint and how people of colour are treated. And in recent years there has been a steep rise in the numbers of people detained under the Act.

The Coronavirus Act has removed essential safeguards. There is now no need for two doctors to sign-off a person’s detention under the Mental Health Act. And there no longer needs to be a review by an independent doctor of whether someone under section should continue to be medicated against their will after three months.

The Coronavirus Act has removed essential safeguards.

It also reduces the requirement to review someone’s detention under the Mental Health Act, and leaves open the possibility that someone could be held in hospital indefinitely in certain circumstances.

Treatment for mental ill-health should be person-centred, but by seriously limiting these safeguards, the Government’s response to this pandemic risks sacrificing people’s fundamental rights at a particularly distressing time for them.

Mental health: what we want

The Government must scrap the Coronavirus Act which has put people experiencing mental health crises at risk.

Social care: what happened?

The Coronavirus Act suspended the requirement for local authorities to support carers and to make sure people’s basic needs, such as diet and access to services, are met.

At least seven councils took advantage, cutting social care services and leaving people without even the most basic support.

This was in the middle of a public health emergency when some of the most marginalised people in society were in particular need of help while services and community support networks were reduced.


Social care: what we want

The Government and local councils should be working to shore up – not weaken – support for disabled people, their carers and those who rely on social care during a crisis.

The Coronavirus Act that allowed this to happen has no end date, meaning councils will be free to remove services again in the future. The Act must be scrapped.


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