Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Should there be a review of the Mental Health Care Act 1983?

MP Mark Harper, challenged Gordon Brown during Prime Ministers question time yesterday over amendments to the current mental health act.
The shadow Minister for Disabled People questioned whether the Prime Minister would amend discriminatory provisions in the existing legislation.

Currently, under Section 141 of the mental Health Care Act 1983, an MP automatically loses their seat in Parliament if detained under the mental health care Act for a period of six months or more.

The Prime Minister said:

“Mental health is a serious problem and we should look at it with great care before we make any decisions”.

In contrast, there are no provisions to remove MPs suffering from physical illnesses which stop them from carrying out their duties and responsibilities for the same length of time.

In July 2008 a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health, supported by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other mental health organisations, showed that one in five MPs have some personal experience of a mental health problem. But one in 3 said work-based stigma and the expectation of a hostile reaction from the media and public prevented them from being open about mental health issues.

The report, Mental Health in Parliament, called for the removal of Section 141 – a change which was backed by the majority of MPs surveyed.

To view the report click here.