Tackling poor mental health in the UK must be a priority and Ministers have legislated to ensure it is treated with the same importance as physical health. In February 2016, an independent Mental Health Taskforce published a new national strategy, setting out an ambitious vision for mental health services. To make these recommendations a reality, the Government will spend an additional £1 billion on mental health by 2020-21.
The Government has announced reform to mental health policy in the latest Queen’s Speech, in order to continue to reduce the number of people detained in police cells under the Mental Health Act. In October 2017, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would embark on a comprehensive review of the Mental Health Act, which has remained unchanged for more than three decades. This review will examine existing practices, and address the disproportionately high rates of detention of people from ethnic minorities. I am pleased to note that the review will be led by Professor Sir Simon Wessely, a former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and he will consider the needs of all users of mental health services and their families, and improve the system’s support for those during a mental health crisis.
I appreciate the concerns raised by the Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Steve Reed MP which will have its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday 3 November. I will not be able to attend the debate as I was in Parliament last Friday supporting Private Member's Bills on Assaults on Emergency Workers and Parental Bereavement Leave and so this Friday I have a day of constituency engagements.
However, I hope constituents are assured by the announcement of the independent review into the Mental Health Act. This review will specifically address issues regarding detention, and how recent practice can be out of step with a modern mental health system which must be responsive to the needs of service users and families. As I understand, the Government expects some of the solutions to lie in practice, leadership, and culture, as well as potentially legislation.