Proposed new laws will unnecessarily restrict liberty and fail
to produce better outcomes according to the Scottish Association
for Mental Health, and 46 other organisations which launched a
campaign on the new Mental Health (Scotland) Bill.
While the alliance of organisations welcome many aspects of the
bill they are calling on the Scottish executive to amend certain
Of greatest concern to the campaign is the proposal to create
additional powers of compulsion over those living in the community.
According to the alliance, experience elsewhere, particularly
Australia, has demonstrated that additional compulsory powers
simply do not work.
Commenting on the proposal Shona Barcus, SAMH Chief Executive,
said: “Before we go about giving the state additional powers to
restrict people’s liberty we must be sure that there is
strong supporting evidence, and in the case of compulsory treatment
in the community this is simply not the case.”
Nigel Henderson, chief executive of Scottish mental health
charity Penumbra, said: “As a major provider of community based
mental health services, Penumbra’s concern is that some aspects of
the proposed legislation will simply reinforce the stigma and
discrimination attached to mental illness.”
Andy Chetty, spokesperson for the Community Psychiatric Nurses
Association in Scotland, said: “The Mental Health Bill will contain
new powers that may disadvantage mental health service users in
their freedom to exercise choices. Once powers are incorporated in
the act they could remain for decades before there is another
Other aspects of the bill which the alliance is campaigning on
include the right to advocacy by all mental health service users,
no psychosurgery without consent under any circumstances and a
wider range of community-based services to ensure that compulsion
is only used when absolutely necessary.