Huge regional variations in the numbers of people subject to the Mental Health Act…

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Six out of the ten areas with the highest rates were in London. 

The Mental Health Act is the law in England and Wales, which governs when someone can be treated for a mental illness without their consent. Approximately 20,000 people are subject to the Act in any given month, and in the last decade, there has been a 47% increase in detentions.

“These figures highlight what Theresa May called one of the “burning injustices” in Britain today: that if you are poor, from a black, Asian or minority ethnicity background and live in an urban area” Brian Dow, deputy chief executive at Rethink Mental Illness, said “you are much more likely to come into contact with the Mental Health Act if you have mental illness”. 

According to Rethink Mental Illness, the reasons behind the variation will be complex, but factors include deprivation, particularly in urban areas, which impacts on mental health. Most of the areas listed also have a higher proportion of people from BAME backgrounds, who are disproportionately detained under the Act. Cuts to local services can also lead to more people reaching crisis point, which is often when the Act comes into force.

The charity says the Act is out-dated and in dire need of reform to ensure the many people who come into contact with it are treated with dignity and respect.