psychologists should refuse to detain patients, academic urges
by Angela Hussain
psychologists should refuse to take on new powers to detain psychiatric
patients, an academic has urged
New government mental health law means clinical psychologists will
be required to implement “social control”, argues Dr
David Harper, a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer in clinical
psychology at the University of East London.
mental health bill currently going through parliament will enable
clinical psychologists, after training, to become "clinical
supervisors”. This means that they will have powers to compulsory
detain and treat patients. Presently they do not have such powers.
writing in last month's Clinical Psychology Forum magazine, Dr Harper
argues that by taking up such powers it would mean clinical psychologists
being further implicated in a "discriminatory" and "unjust"
mental health system.
warns that because the new law would be flawed and "coercive”
clinical psychologists will end up having to detain patients "because
there are no alternatives”
also says planned community treatment orders, which clinical psychologists
would have to powers to implement, would place "unprecedented"
control over patients.
Harper wrote: “Rather than accept these proposals [the mental
health bill] as they are, I would argue that we should refuse to
take on compulsory
powers until these flaws have been addressed.”
government argues its mental health bill, which will extend compulsory
powers of detention over the mentally ill even if they have decision-making
capacity, will both provide a better service to patients while better
protecting the public,
Dr Harper argues that allegedly dangerous patients who have committed
no crime but who have decision-making capacity should be handled
under criminal, not mental health, law.
British Psychological Society (BPS) supports proposals for clinical
psychologists to become clinical supervisors, arguing it would enable
patients to benefit more from psychological interventions.
this month when debating the bill, peers in the House of Lords voted
by a majority of 106 that psychiatric patients should have an impairment
of decision-making ability before being compulsory treated. The
bill does not include such a condition.
bill is to next go before MPs in the House of Commons who will vote
on the planned law.
12, 2007: Government set to win bid to extend compulsion powers
over mentally ill, says MP
- "I do not think there will be a major Labour rebellion,"
says Lynne Jones of group of MPs with previous "misgivings”
over mental health bill.
Dec 12, 2006: CTOs do not
work...and that's according to the evidence base - Community
treatment orders will help protect the public from mentally people
who kill, says the government. But what of the evidence for such
1, 2006: Government presses ahead to force some psychiatric patients
to take medication in community - plans in new mental health
11, 2005: We can do a power of good - Many clinical psychologists
welcome the draft mental health bill because it would give them
extra powers, such as preventing the use of ECT or the over-medication
of patients. Moreover, argues Peter Kinderman, it's time clinical
psychologists stopped clinging to the myth that, at present, they
have no power
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