Mental Health Bill should do more to advance patient autonomy, Scottish Human Rights Commission tells Government

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has today published its evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s consultation on the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill. The Commission calls for extra measures to strengthen the protection of people’s human rights in mental health services. Recommendations include encouraging greater use of Advance Statements, developing an opt-in approach to nominating Named Persons and improving access to the right to independent advocacy.

Cathy Asante, Legal Officer for the Commission, said:

“Human rights law, through both the Human Rights Act and the UN Disability Convention, has been extremely influential in guiding mental health law and policy in Scotland.

“It is now well-established that we do not lose our rights to make decisions about our own lives when we experience mental illness or impairment.  While the draft Mental Health (Scotland) Bill goes some way towards advancing this fundamental principle of autonomy, there is more that can and should be done to ensure that services support people to make decisions about their own mental health treatment, in line with their own  wishes.”

The Commission recommends a series of actions to encourage greater use of Advance Statements including considering a statutory duty on some medical staff to discuss and explain their effectiveness. Other recommendations include developing an opt-in approach to nominating Named Persons instead of the opt-out approach proposed by the Bill;  strengthening the duty to provide independent advocacy for people with mental health problems; and developing clearer statutory and Code of Practice guidance on the use of force, restraint and covert medication. 

Read our evidence in Word format.