Petition calls for end to autism mental health crisis

The National Autistic Society has today handed in a petition with 217,828 signatures into number 10 Downing Street, calling on the Government to end the practice of autistic people being inappropriately detained in mental health hospitals.

We have teamed up with autistic campaigner Alexis Quinn to hand in the petition. Alexis was detained under the Mental Health Act in 2012. She spent almost three-and-a-half years in different mental health hospitals. She was restrained over 90 times, and, on one occasion was held in long-term segregation (solitary confinement) for eight days.

Despite repeated promises from the Government to reduce how many autistic people are held in mental health hospitals, the numbers reported are rising. One of the reasons so many autistic people end up detained in mental health hospitals is that autism is defined as a ‘mental disorder’ in the Mental Health Act 1983, despite autism not being a mental health condition. Another is that the country doesn’t have the right services to support autistic people in their own homes. No-one should ever be stuck in an institution just because there’s nowhere else to go.

We’re calling on the Government to review the definition of autism in the Mental Health Act urgently and to develop the right community services in every area of the country.

Date added: 15 August 2019