professional organisations leave Mental Health Alliance
by Angela Hussain
major professional organisations have left the Mental Health Alliance,
accusing it of
failing to send out a “clear” message about the importance
of non-medical approaches in mental health.
psychiatric nurses and occupational therapists have accused the
alliance of failing to convey their views about aspects of the mental
health bill in briefings to MPs and Lords.
British Psychological Society, the Royal College of Nursing, the
British Association of Occupational Therapists and Unison and Amicus
(who represent mental health nurses) have suspended their membership
of the alliance which for eight years has campaigned against the
Royal College of Psychiatrists is now the only major mental health
professional body represented by the alliance, backed by more than
70 other mental health, law and human rights organisations.
the alliance's chair Andy Bell emphasised that, despite the withdrawal
of the five professional organisations, it will still "speak
up" for service users.
members are committed to achieving legislation that keeps the use
of force in mental health care to a safe minimum and that give patients
and carers more, not fewer, rights," he said.
five organisations are particularly frustrated that the House of
Lords had voted against giving non-psychiatrists new powers to decide
whether or not sectioned patients should have their detention renewed.
organisations see it as a failure by the alliance to communicate
to parliament the worth and status of professionals utilising non-medical
and non-pharmacological approaches, such as psychological therapy,
to treat the mentally ill.
organisations say "unwarranted fears” had also been voiced
in parliament that non-psychiatrists would be more likely to detain
patients. The organisations also claim their members had been unjustifiably
portrayed in parliamentary debates as "self-interested"
and less responsible than medically-trained psychiatrists.
key grievance is that House of Lords peers, many of whom the Royal
College of Psychiatrists advised, voted that at least two “medical
practitioners” i.e. psychiatrists, should be involved in renewing
in the bill as it stands there is no legal requirement for a psychiatrist
to be involved in ordering a renewal of detention. Responsibility
would lie with a "clinical supervisor" who could be a
psychologist, nurse, social worker or occupational therapist.
In an advisory letter last week
to MPs, representatives of the five non-psychiatrist organisations
- who say they represent
85 per cent of all mental health professionals -
emphasised the value of non-pharmacological treatments in multi-disciplinary
therapists and psychologists routinely lead clinical teams and supervise
the clinical work of other professions. Psychological interventions
are now considered the ‘treatment-of-choice’ for a wide
variety of mental disorders, and are in huge demand," read
have long argued that it would be in the interests of mental health
service users …for other professionals who work more closely
with service users on a day-to-day basis to have a more developed
mental health bill is due to go to a report stage in the House of
Commons next month.
17, 2007: Leading psychiatrist turns down OBE in protest at "deeply
flawed" mental health bill - Suman Fernando fears planned
new law could exacerbate discimination of black people
Feb 28, 2007: Peers defeat government
over plans to extend compulsory plans of treatment over mentally
ill - controversial bill now due to go before MPs after Easter
25, 2007: Clinical psychologists should refuse to detain patients,
academic urges - new government law means psychologists will
be required to implement “social control”, argues David
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