Coronavirus (COVID-19): mental health - transition and recovery plan

This plan outlines our response to the mental health impacts of COVID-19. It addresses the challenges that the pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on the population’s mental health.

18. Mental Health Law

Mental health law is about enabling and empowering people with mental illness, respecting and protecting human rights and responsibilities, assisting recovery, and supporting family and other relationships.

Scotland's main source of mental health law, the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 is a complex and comprehensive piece of legislation. Its overarching approach is to ensure that the law and practice relating to mental health should be driven by a set of principles, particularly minimum interference in individual liberty and the maximum involvement of service users in any treatment. As we are committed to doing all we can to realise the rights of persons with mental health issues the independent review of mental health legislation will continue, providing an important platform for future work in this area. The review aims to improve people's rights and protections and also remove barriers to those caring for their health and welfare. Engaging those with lived experience is a key part of this work.

The response to Covid-19 in terms of mental health legislation was to ensure that a package of emergency measures was in place to ensure that those who required care and treatment under the 2003 Act were still able to access it, even where there may be severe staff shortages within mental health services. Careful consideration was given as to how this could be achieved, to ensure these provisions are proportionate to the threat posed by the pandemic and we are clear that they would only be triggered if there was robust evidence that the pressures on the mental health system necessitated them. This was firmly aligned with our aim of maintaining safe, effective treatment and care of people with mental disorder and/or neurodevelopmental conditions throughout the period of the pandemic.

  • 18.1 - Emergency Legislation. We will continue to work with key stakeholders to closely monitor and review the continued need for emergency Covid-19 legislative measures on an ongoing basis.
  • 18.2 - Learning Disability and Autism in the Mental Health Act Review. We will work in conjunction with a range of policy colleagues across Scottish Government to consider the next steps for the completed Learning Disability and Autism in the Mental Health Act Review.
  • 18.3 - Independent Review of Mental Health and Incapacity Legislation. We will continue to support the Independent Review of Mental Health and Incapacity Legislation, and encourage its efforts to engage widely, within current restrictions.
  • 18.4 - 2003 Act - Code of Practice Review. We will continue to engage with key stakeholders on the review of the Code of Practice for the 2003 Act.



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