This issue reports on recent changes and proposed amendments to legislation that will have a major impact on the lives of people who use mental health services. A recent Department of Health and Home Office review of the sections of the Mental Health Act that relate to police powers aims to outlaw the use of police custody suites as a place of safety for people under 18 and to reduce the amount of time that people can be detained under these sections. The review is accompanied by a Centre for Mental Health report based on interviews with mental health professionals, police officers, service users and carers with experience of these sections of the Act.
The measures contained in the Care Act 2014, due to be implemented from April this year, apply to everyone who needs social care support, including people with mental health needs, and are likely to lead to an increase in the number of people who receive a personal budget. Being in receipt of a personal budget offers people the opportunity to receive the kind of support they themselves have identified as likely to increase their feelings of wellbeing and opens up possibilities for innovative approaches to dealing with distress. This issue also features the very different experiences of two people asking for help from their GPs, who remain the first point of contact for most people seeking support for physical and mental health conditions, and how this experience can contribute to feelings of hope or hopelessness.
Shaun Lawrence highlights the positive effect that coming into contact with a compassionate and understanding GP can have, whereas another contributor reports on the negative impact of not feeling properly listened to and being treated in accordance with the GP’s preconceived ideas.