Milburn told mental health bill is flawed

The Mental Health Alliance has told health secretary Alan
Milburn that the draft mental health bill is “fundamentally flawed,
unworkable and unethical”.

Representatives from the alliance handed in a ‘giant letter’
containing the group’s response to the draft bill to the
department of health on 16 September, the closing date for the
consultation period.

The letter describes the bill as “a backward step” from the
current Mental Health Act, and claims it fails to take account of
the views of people who use mental health services.

The alliance, which is made up of more than 50 organisations,
believes the bill will increase the number of people subject to
compulsory treatment, frighten people away from seeking help, and
have a negative impact on the work done to reduce the stigma of
mental distress.

The alliance will lobby parliament on 23 October. It cancelled a
march due to take place last week because of fears for the
demonstrators’ safety following the publicity surrounding Ian
Huntley. His ability to give evidence was questioned after he was
charged with the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Meanwhile, research from mental health charity Mind shows that
37 per cent of people would be deterred from seeking help from
their GP if the mental health bill became law.
The NOP poll of more than one thousand people found that young
people would be particularly reluctant, with over half of 15-24s
saying they would not seek medical help for mental health problems
under the changes. Four in 10 men said they would be put off seeing
their doctor for depression.

* Welsh assembly members have been warned that
the mental health bill is in direct conflict with the
principality’s own strategy.

They were called back from recess to take part in a landmark
debate over the implications of the bill. Many leading Welsh
politicians are deeply unhappy about the proposed legislation.

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