Learning disability and autism no longer to be listed as a mental health disorder

A much needed review of The Mental Health Act is coming, and details of the new draft mental health bill were announced last Friday night by the government. 

Currently people with a learning disability and autism can be subjected to being sectioned under the act as learning disabilities and autism is considered a mental disorder under this antiquated law. This is set to change.

The reforms are the first major changes to The Mental Health Act since launched in 1983 and will; aim to reduce the number of people being detained under current laws in England and Wales. According to the NHS there has been a continued rise in people with autism being hospitalised and according to the National Autistic Society, the majority of detentions are made under the Mental Health Act 1983, despite autism itself not being a mental health disorder. So as the law currently stands, you can actually be detained under the Act  if you have autism or a learning disability and do not have a mental health condition. There is a lack of knowledge and understanding regarding support issues faced by people with Autism and learning disability and this needs to change

The reform is set to remove the terms “learning disabilities and autism” so they are no longer recognised as mental health disorders.

Current laws mean that people with learning disabilities or autism can have treatments imposed on them against their wishes if they are detained. The new draft bill will allow people to have their say and refuse a specific treatment where a suitable alternative is available. When embedded this will support the individual’s rights to have more say over their treatment and go some way to address inequalities that we know exist for people with Autism and learning disability.

“Nothing about me without me”

As part of the reforms The Department of Health and Social Care is running a call for evidence which closes on the 7th July.

Participate and have your say