close up of a girl with a curly hair and wearing black jacket looking in front of the camera with group of young people on the background

Mental Health Act Review

We worked with the charity Rethink Mental Illness to facilitate engagement with young people and find out their thoughts on the proposed changes to the Mental Health Act.

What were the project aims?

  • To understand the experiences of young people previously detained under the Mental Health Act to inform the Government’s response to their Mental Health Act White Paper.

  • Commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care, Rethink Mental Illness worked with our Service Design team to conduct focus group sessions with these young people.

What motivated this project?

In 2017, the Government asked for an independent review of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA), to look at how it’s used and to suggest ways to improve it. 

A longstanding objective for Rethink Mental Illness has been to reform the Mental Health Act. The aim is to modernise this piece of outdated legislation to improve the rights and experiences of people severely affected by mental illness.

What obstacles did we overcome?

  • Covid-19

    The impact of the pandemic resulted in workshops being delivered online, which was a challenge, particularly in secure care services and sourcing participants outside traditional supporters and beneficiaries. 

    Facilitating the workshop in a remote space did enable young people to take time out from the workshop if and when they needed to, without drawing attention to themselves.

  • Timings

    The tight timings for the project led to rapid recruitment of participants, scheduling of each workshop and analysis.

    Despite these timings, we were able to work with young people with a mix of direct experiences of the MHA, including entering under section and voluntarily, as well as young people with indirect experience through close family members or friends.

Project outcomes

The key theme that emerged throughout the research was that young people did not feel listened to or able to engage meaningfully in their care and treatment. Young people expressed that the care they received felt more like detention and that instead of being person-centred and tailored to individual needs, staff tend to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to the care and support provided.

Our report below outlines all findings and recommendations that emerged from the project.

Mental Health Act review report
The results of this project have informed the Government’s response to the Mental Health Act White Paper consultation and will go on to shape future legislation.
Policy Manager, Rethink Mental Illness.

Project reach

We delivered...

2 workshops
with 14 young people aged 16-25
1-1 calls
with five young people aged 16-24

We worked with...

6 Activists
recruited by YoungMinds
8 participants
externally recruited

Top tips learnt from the project

  • The most important considerations would be timings and relevance, so the earlier notice for upcoming projects, the better it is across all teams.
  • Establishing a common ground among the project teams through a team session before the project commences is vital.
When working with children and young people, trusting the skills and expertise of external organisations such as YoungMinds can produce highly influential results.

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