Sharp rise in number detained under Mental Health Act

The number of people in England detained under the Mental Health Act rose by nearly one-third last year, figures released today show.

In 2009-10, 42,479 people were detained under the act, up 30% on the 32,649 held in 2008-9, according to the NHS Information Centre.

The hike contributed to the first rise in five years in the number of mental health inpatients overall, which increased by 5% to 107,765. Nearly 40% of those who spent time in hospital were detained under the act, a rise of 7.6 percentage points on the 2008-9 figure.

A specific research project is needed to determine the reasons behind the rise in compulsory admissions, said Steve Shrubb, director of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, which represents mental health trusts.

However, he said that rising demand reflected the impact of the recession on the nation’s mental health and warned that services could be badly hit by impending cuts.

“NHS mental health organisations are clear the overall increase in demand for services provide mounting evidence for how bad recession is for the nation’s mental health. Due to the way mental health services are funded, there are serious risks that mental services will be cut disproportionately. Such ‘slash and burn’ cuts to block contracts will be short sighted and counterproductive.”

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