Could Mental Health Laws Become ‘Toxic’?
June 1, 2023

Issues regarding mental health are increasing in the UK. With our mental health impacting our lives so much, we must do all we can to take care of it and it is our government’s job to make sure that all the correct legal procedures are put in place should a person’s mental health issues take their toll on them.

There are laws in place to help protect people who may not be in their right state of mind. However, how do we know when these laws have gone too far? When do they become too restricting and potentially ‘toxic’? We’ve provided a detailed look into what these laws are and what they mean for individuals who may be struggling as well as the potential risks they have to become too controlling.

Mental Capacity Law

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) has been legally enforced since 2007. It typically covers situations where an individual loses their capacity to make decisions for themselves. However, it is not as straightforward as that – the MCA is decision specific. This means that a person may be found to have the capacity to make some decisions, just not others, so it is entirely dependent on the scenario. This is because no provision under English and Welsh law automatically removes a person’s ability to make life choices.

The MCA, despite being around for years, is often confused regarding the correct protocol, especially due to the code of practice being out of date. This puts it at risk of being weaponised and too debilitating.

Mental Health Law

When a person’s mental health deteriorates to the point of causing concern of risk to their, or somebody else’s health, laws are put in place to offer some guidance. In England and Wales, this is known as the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) and comes into play when compulsory detention in hospitals must be sanctioned.

Some criteria must be met under this act to put someone into detention without their consent and understanding and refers to when it’s necessary to help themselves and others. However, many elements of the MHA are outdated and may not reflect the way that we look at mental health support today. For example, it’s outlined that the person’s closest relative takes the highest point of their care and decision-making, regardless of the nature of their relationship at this point. Depending on how that relationship is, this could be more detrimental to the person who is struggling.

The Rule Of Law

The rule of law is intended to prevent problems like these from arising as much as possible by ensuring that there is access to justice and strong legal safeguards available for those in vulnerable circumstances. That’s why seeking guidance from a professional would be beneficial in ensuring the safety of either yourself or a loved one should this case arise.

Loss of capacity can be devastating. That is why we recommend setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) whilst someone still has mental capacity. LPA’s will help to make sure that important decisions about health & welfare and property & finances are executed in the donor’s best interests.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney and how it can benefit a person who may bedeemed mentally unfit in the future to make their own decisions, you can start by reading our 5 steps to take to make an LPA

Otherwise, feel free to contact our team if you have any questions about Lasting Powers of Attorney.

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