Mental Health Awareness Week

Posted on May 9, 2017
person sitting on bed with head in hands

Theresa May has pledged for a ‘mental health revolution’ which could see the end to the UK Mental Health Act as we know it. Our Head of Mental Health at Jefferies Solicitors, Umar Kankiya, has practiced in the field of mental health for a number of years and in this insightful post, he shares his views on the proposed changes:

Yesterday marked the start of Mental Health Awareness week which will run until the 12th May 2017.

Last week we saw Premier League and England footballer, Aaron Lennon, detained under the Mental Health Act.

The General Elections have seen all political parties making statements about what they will do about investing in mental health and people’s access to it.

Mental health in general is still seen as a bit of a taboo subject though I must say from the time I have been practicing in this field the awareness around it is increasing but further work needs to be done to continue with keeping it in the public psyche.

There are rumblings that the Mental Health Act in its current form is to be scrapped and new legislation to be brought in to deal with what some see are the shortfalls within the current legislation.

What is interesting is that the current government want to rip up the Mental Health Act and look at changing thresholds for detention. The legislation we have is not the issue, some modifications here and there have helped but most would say that the Act is quite a good Act and safeguards people really well.

I deal with those that are on the ground and front facing when it comes to mental health. From the nurses and doctors on the ward, the police officers who deal with members of the public who are dealing with mental health issues publicly, to the Social workers who are tasked with looking after those detained after they are discharged back to the community.

The real issue is that there is a serious lack of investment in detained patients but even more so for aftercare. The amount of people who get re-detained regularly is very high in my experience, where there is poor aftercare in place. It’s not the fault of the social workers, it’s the fact that they are so overstretched and there is a serious lack of funding, that this makes it difficult for people to get the necessary care to continue making progress once discharged.

Mental health does not discriminate whether you are rich or poor, whatever your background, mental health can affect anyone anytime.

In this week of Mental Health Awareness it’s important that more is done to continue with tackling the stigma of mental health, more needs to be done to educate people around this issue. Finally for those who are affected by it and find themselves detained in hospital for a period of time, a lot more needs to be done to invest in ensuring they receive the best care whilst in hospital and even more importantly getting the best aftercare when discharged to allow them to continue making the progress they made and be able to manage effectively in the community, without ending up in a vicious cycle.

Umar Kankiya
Head of Mental Health / Solicitor / Mental Health Panel Member

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