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The voice of lived experience in the Mental Health Act White Paper

Early in 2021, Rethink Mental Illness was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care to undertake engagement with two distinct groups of people, in order to feed into the Mental Health Act White Paper. These two groups were people who had previously experienced detention under the Mental Health Act, and people who are currently detained under it.

A panel of paid experts-by-experience were selected to translate the technical questions posed in the White Paper into accessible language, and to help shape the project throughout. Rethink also liaised with YoungMinds to engage with children and young people with experience of detention under the Act. 23 sessions were held allowing for engagement with 106 people across both groups.

The main findings suggest that there is high level of support for most of the proposals in the white paper, such as enhancing choice and involvement. However, there is some scepticism due to the negative experiences people had while detained under the Mental health Act, namely a lack of therapeutic care and being discharged too early. This research also reinforced the importance of the NHS Long Term Plan in transforming community mental health services to prevent detentions from happening in the first place.

The full reports can be accessed on the Rethink Mental Illness website.

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