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Changes to the Mental Health Act in England and Wales

Important changes to the Mental Health Act in England and Wales were recommended yesterday, with the publication of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act. Recommendations include the introduction of new rights to challenge detention, and a new duty on decision-makers to have the right services locally. These changes, if implemented, could help many autistic people get better mental health support and they could mean that fewer autistic people are admitted to inappropriate mental health hospitals.

But there is disappointment that these changes don’t go further, to stop autistic people being inappropriately detained under the Mental Health Act. The National Autistic Society’s main concern is the Act’s definition of “mental disorder”, which includes autism. We are clear about this: autism is not a mental health condition and it is inappropriate for autism to be included in the definition in this way. In 2015, the Government committed to looking at this. We are disappointed that the review published today has not recommended a change.

Date added: 7 December 2018