An Exploration of Sectioning under the Mental Health Act: Failure of the Current (Medical) Model to Protect Patient Rights

Categories ISSUE 6

An Exploration of Sectioning under the Mental
Health Act: Failure of the Current (Medical) Model to Protect Patient Rights

by Scarlett Stock

Sections 2 and 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended) (MHA) allow individuals to be civilly detained for assessment or treatment without their consent. With Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights providing a ‘Right to Liberty’, though not an absolute right, the MHA represents extreme interference with human rights. As will be shown, the MHA s 2 and s 3 operate under the medical model. The traditional medical model approach purports a ‘focus on biological cure or management of the condition or person’ and ‘involves a power imbalance in the relationship between professional and patient’ with ‘diagnosis and classification functioning as ends.’ Within mental health law ‘a medicalised model of disability has been prominent,’ and the most recent MHA intended to move away from this and encourage patient involvement. However, whether this is the case in practice shall be explored whilst taking into consideration the Act, its Code of Practice, and case law. These sources will determine whether the medical model is still prominent in practice– but the words of the act and some realities reflect different models; hence, an evaluation is necessary to
determine whether this is the most effective way forward for mental health law.

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