Musings of a phenomenologist

Science, psychiatry and random musings

More mental health news

Posted by soveda on September 10, 2008

After my last rant about mental health reporting this morning reveals the following:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7604089.stm

In complete contrast to the previous report this seems to be balanced and appropriate.

Far those who are unaware Section 136 of the 1983 Mental Health Act deals with police powers to remove someone from a public place and take them to a designated place of safety for assessment, if that person is believed to be suffering from a mental illness.

This site from 1996 details some concerns about this section of the act and possible misuse of powers. As can be seen here and here there have been problems with the interpretation of this part of the act.

And this site details the current information given by the Government about section 136.

Now some important points, in the article it states that:

“It is generally agreed that police custody should be used only in exceptional cases”

The Code of practice states:

“The place of safety 10.5 The identification of preferred places of safety is a matter for local agreement. However, as a general rule it is preferable for a person thought to be suffering from mental disorder to be detained in a hospital rather than a police station. Regard should be had to any impact different types of place of safety may have on the person held and hence on the outcome of an assessment. Once the person has been removed to a particular place of safety, they cannot be transferred to a different place of safety.”

This is important, I don’t know how many people reading this have seen a custody suite but it isn’t the most therapeutic of environments. (Mind you some “136 suites” in hospitals are not terribly therapeutic either).

What would be the likely mental state of people detained under section 136?

  • Scared
  • Hallucinating
  • Suicidal
  • Persecuted/paranoid
  • Angry

Just off the top of my head. And let’s not forget that the aim of a detention under section 136 is in order to assess someone’s mental state. This relies on (well partly) being able to talk to the person, is a custody suite the best place to do this?

Further reading:

MIND

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/

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