Is the Mental Health Act saving lives?
Dr Mark Salter, who has been working in mental health services in London for 20 years, says “to detain them in hospital against their wishes is absolutely essential in saving their life.”
Salter says that they probably save three lives each night in the Hackney unit.
According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, it was found that between 2013 and 2014, the Mental Health Act in England was used over 50,000 times. More than 4,000 of the patients admitted were aged between 18 and 24.
The use of the Mental Health Act has increased by 30 per cent in the last 10 years.
Why can you be sectioned?
Generally, you can be sectioned if you are putting your safety, health or other people at risk.
Salter believes if the person is in a state of confusion, fear, are hearing voices or having suicidal thoughts, then that person may benefit from being sectioned. He says that it would be a good idea to be under the care of someone with skill, compassion, time and medicine to take away what the person is feeling.
One individual has spoken about her experiences. From the age of 14 she suffered mental illness – later being diagnosed with depression, an eating disorder, borderline personality disorder and eventually, bipolar affective disorder. She explains her moods started to deteriorate; swinging from one extreme to the other and when admitted, as soon as she showed improvements she would be sent home, where she would suffer it all again.
“It got so bad that I felt I needed to be in hospital for a longer period of time for treatment, so they ended up sectioning me.”
Despite being in and out of hospital on over 10 occasions, being sectioned twice and feeling “trapped and out of control”, she believes it saved her life.
“If I look back now, I don’t think I’d be alive today if I hadn’t have gone through that process.”
The period of 2013 to 2014 show the Mental Health Act was used to detain individuals a total of 53,176 times. This number does not take into account the patients, only the admissions, so it is possible that a person may have been admitted on more than one occasion.
Alison Fiddy from Mind, the mental health charity explains how the multiple admissions show that more needs to be done to help people, before they get to the stage of needing to be sectioned.
Fiddy believes that there needs to be a focus on the availability of care in the community, in order to help people before they get to such an extreme suffering.
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