Draft Mental Health Bill: What are People Saying?

On 8th of September the Government published its latest draft Mental Health Bill. The Bill could replace the Mental Health Act 1983 which determines how people can be subject to ‘section’ – compulsory detention and treatment.

What have the responses to the revised draft been like? Overall, the Government has been commended for some of its substantial changes; yet the opinion of most is that fundamental problems with the Bill remain. Here are links to all the key responses:

Hafal (see news item directly below) – Wales’ principal organisation supporting people with severe mental illness and their families.
“Unjust and Unworkable”

Mental Health Alliance – a coalition of 60 service user, professional, service provider, trade union and voluntary organisations.
“A shameful step backwards”

The Royal College of Psychiatrists – the professional and educational body for psychiatrists in the United Kingdom.
“Second Draft … has not taken into account the College’s grave anxieties in terms of civil liberties, ethics, practicality and effectiveness”

The Zito Trust – works toward the reform of mental health policy and law, to provide advice and support to victims of community care breakdown.

No direct response to the Bill on their website, but you’ll find a summary of their campaign that supports certain fundamentals of the Bill

Rethink – severe mental illness charity operating in England and Northern Ireland.
Mental Health Alliance Press Release posted here

Mind – one of the leading mental health charities in England and Wales.
“Still fundamentally flawed”

Sane – mental health charity providing support, information, research and campaigning.
“New laws will not work without new provision”

Manic Depression Fellowship – works to enable people affected by manic depression to take control of their lives.
“Unfit for the 21st century”

The Mental After Care Association (MACA) – one of the country’s leading national charities supporting people with mental health problems.
Presents key issues arising from the Bill.

The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health – works to improve the quality of life for people with severe mental health problems.
“New Mental Health Bill will drive people from services”

To view the new Draft Mental Health Bill for yourself, click here.


The Health and Social Services Committee of the National Assembly will be meeting on the afternoon of Thursday 14th October to discuss the draft Mental Health Bill. We’ll keep you posted on any developments.


In the wake of the publication of the latest draft of the Mental Health Bill, Commander Andy Baker, Head of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad, has called for specific changes to patient confidentiality laws.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Commander Baker argued that doctors should be able to inform police if they suspected their patient of posing a risk to the public, their families and carers.

“Saving a life must come over and above confidentiality and those kinds of rights of the individual,” argued Commander Baker. “The powers are already there for doctors. I don’t know whether they need to be enlarged because they are not working.”

However, as with the infringements imposed on patient’s rights by the draft Bill, Baker’s proposal has been met with criticism. Dr Roger Freeman, from the Royal College of Psychiatry, responded: “The problem is that murder is a very rare crime. I am not clear what changes Mr Baker wants.”

For more information on this story, follow this link.