Thank you for contacting me about reforms to the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA).
I firmly support the Government's commitment to see mental health treated on a par with physical health, and I supported proposals to reform the MHA. I understand that the Government is reviewing the outcome of the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill's pre-legislative scrutiny report and will respond in due course.
I recognise that there is disappointment that a Bill was not included in the recent King’s Speech. However, I understand that the Government remains committed to bringing forward a Mental Health Bill when Parliamentary time permits.
In the meantime, the Government will continue to take forward non-legislative commitments to improve the care and treatment of people detained under the Act. Ministers' intention to achieve parity of esteem is also reflected in the historic levels of investment the Government is putting into NHS mental health services. The £2.3 billion of additional funding per year by March 2024 will expand and transform mental health services, enabling two million additional people to benefit from mental health support.
The Government has also recognised the need to improve the mental health estate. The NHS is on track with a commitment to eradicate dormitories in mental health inpatient care by next year, replacing them with single-patient rooms which improve dignity and outcomes for patients. Progress is underway to improve care for people undergoing a mental health crisis, with £150 million capital investment in 50 schemes including crisis cafes, crisis houses, and new and improved health-based places of safety which provide a safe space for people detained by the police.
The Government also continues to pilot models of Culturally Appropriate Advocacy, providing tailored support to hundreds of people from ethnic minorities to improve understanding of their rights when they are detained under the MHA. Earlier in 2023, the Department of Health and Social Care also published a suicide prevention strategy, with an ambitious commitment to see the suicide rate fall within two and half years.