The issue of involuntary mental health treatment, sometimes referred to as “sectioning,” is highly contentious within the mental health community, with some professionals strongly advocating for the detention of those who are deemed to pose a threat to themselves or those around them, and others opposed to the idea of the state interfering with the freedom of clients. In the United Kingdom, the Mental Health Act dictates that those exhibiting symptoms of mental health concerns who may be prone to committing harm should in fact be detained for up to six months without their consent. Interventional assessments to discern whether such individuals should be sectioned are carried out by teams of mental health professionals and support staff. Recently, a reporter in the UK was on-hand to experience a day in the life of such team members, and has recorded her experience in piece detailing the many issues involved in involuntary detainment.
The report details incidents in which a variety of potential mental health clients not receiving care are met with psychologists and police workers, an assembly which may prove intimidating and conflict with emerging ideas about the inadequacy of matching mental health clients with the non-specialized skills of police and ambulance staff. The reporter also describes scenes of potentially turning-point moments in the lives of those served with an assessment; encouraged to seek care and connected with valuable community resources, some of these people may go on to improve their quality of life without the need for mandatory treatment. A deep look at the often difficult realities of mental health crises, the report shows both the negative and positive aspects of the Mental Health Act, providing insights for other countries that may be interested in developing similar laws.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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