Too many people still forced into mental health treatment
Wednesday, 26 September 2012There was a drop in the number of people receiving compulsory treatment under Scotland’s Mental Health Act last year, however critics have said they are still being used too frequently.
According to the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland’s Annual Monitoring Report, the number of new episodes of compulsory treatment under the mental health act rose sharply in 2010-2011 and fell only slightly last year.
Episodes where people had to be served with any form of compulsory order totalled 4,271 last year, down from the previous year’s 4,304. However this was still around 200 more detentions than 2009/10.
There are a number of compulsory treatment options, mostly involving treatment within the community.
Last year 1,786 were admitted to hospital under Emergency Detention Certificates (EDC). This was also a slight drop on the previous year.
Charities have now joined the commission to urge medical professionals, the courts and police to use compulsory treatment orders more responsibly.
The report, which covers a 12 month period from August shows that while the majority of new orders – 70 per cent – were short-term (31 days or less) there was an increase in the number of compulsory long-term orders, especially community orders, served this year.
The report states: “We think that the authorities should review the need for orders more often.
“We also want to see more evidence of work to help people to recover to the point where they can take responsibility for their own treatment without the need for compulsion.”
Carolyn Roberts, head of policy at the Scottish Association for Mental Health, said that while the fall in the total number of detentions last year was welcome the act should only be used as a last resort.
She said: “It is particularly good news that this fall is due to a reduction in emergency detentions, which should not be the normal route into compulsory treatment.
“However, emergency detentions for people aged over 65 rose by 11 per cent: we agree with the Mental Welfare Commission that suitable support in the community needs to be available for people in this age group.”
In terms of local authority area, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lothian and Tayside have high rates of new orders while Borders and Dumfries and Galloway had lowest numbers.
The use of long-term orders have fallen sharply in Dumfries and Galloway (mainly hospital orders) and risen sharply in Highland (mainly community orders).
This is the first year the commission has published a separate report on young people being treated under the act.
The report reveals much higher figures over the last two years than previously for under 18s. The rise was mainly in girls, usually because of eating disorders or suicide risk.
Roberts added: “It’s also good news that the number of children and young people being admitted to adult wards has continued to fall.
“What is really important is that, regardless of which ward they are in, young people being treated under the Act should be able to continue their education, receive age-appropriate support and have regular contact with specialists in child and adolescent mental health.”