Scottish Mental Health Law Review – my experience so far

In January 2020 I took on a role I never thought would happen; I became part of the executive team reviewing Scotland’s mental health legislation.

I say I never thought it would happen not because I didn’t believe I had the skills, experience and knowledge of this area to do such a role, but my involvement was sought because I am a carer of someone who has mental health problems and it was that perspective the executive team wanted.

They also wanted the valuable perspective of a person who had been subject to the law and so I was joined on the team by Graham Morgan.

The inclusion of myself and Graham means that the review can be guided not just by a legal and academic approach, but also from a personal and lived experience perspective.

We need to hear from as many people as possible who have been impacted by mental health legislation

So, what’s it been like? It’s actually been both very interesting and daunting. Interesting because what we are doing is reviewing a large and complex area of legislation through the lens of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to ensure the legislation is enacted in a way which aligns, as much as possible, with the CRPD.

Daunting because mental health legislation is huge and the people involved range from those directly impacted by it, service users, carers and families, to clinicians, independent advocates, lawyers, mental health officers etc. It can at times feel like herding cats! But that’s what I love; the challenge of gathering views/concerns/issues and then looking at what can be done.

We are in the first phase of the review, gathering evidence and this is where you come in.

We need to hear from as many people as possible who have either been impacted by mental health legislation, and from people who have a role to play in using the legislation.

If you are reading this because you are interested in what the review is doing and have a view on mental health legislation or have been affected by it, please get in touch with us.

Given the current climate in relation to the threat of the coronavirus, we are now asking if people can respond individually or collectively via the online consultation.

What you tell us will help guide us to which parts of the legislation is working well and which parts need to be looked at and that the legislation remains fit for purpose, is not overly restrictive and keeps the person at the centre of all decisions made under the legislation.

As I say this is the first phase, we will be coming back and asking more questions and gathering more views as the review progresses, but if you want to contribute you still have plenty of time to share your views.

As a carer and named person for my husband, I can only stress to other carers and named persons please come forward with your views/issues/experiences of mental health law.

by Karen Martin

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