Concerns raised over compulsory treatment

The head of the body set up to protect the welfare of people
with a mental illness in Scotland has admitted he has concerns
about the introduction of compulsory community treatment,
writes Simeon Brody from Edinburgh.

Donald Lyons, director of the Mental Welfare Commission, told
Community Care Live in Edinburgh it was right to introduce
community-based orders but he had concerns they could used to
“restrict rather than enable” people.

The orders will be introduced in Scotland next month under the
Mental Health Act 2003 but, unlike the compulsory orders proposed
in England, they can only be enforced if someone does not have the
capability to make decisions about their own treatment.

Decisions to impose a compulsory order will be considered by a
mental health tribunal and Lyons said it could do a good job if it
used the orders to enable support and promote recovery. He said it
was important that orders were not made on a routine basis and
pledged to visit everyone placed on an order within six months to
examine the grounds for the order and the quality of care.

He hoped the act would improve standards across mental health
care, and said the law needed to reflect the fact mental health
care had moved out of hospitals into the community.

Shona Neil, chief executive of the Scottish Association of
Mental Health, said community compulsion could be “a step too
far” and might encourage people to go into hiding to avoid
their treatment. She urged voluntary agencies to think about
whether they would want to provide services under compulsion and
suggested some agencies might be called to give evidence to mental
health tribunals.


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