Hundreds of mental health detentions in Bedfordshire

It’s equal to a rate of 83 per 100,000 people over the year
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Hundreds of people in need of urgent mental health treatment were detained under the Mental Health Act in Bedfordshire last year, figures show.

And the Law Society has said planned reform of the act must happen "sooner rather than later".

Figures provided by NHS Digital show at least 800 detentions were carried out across the former NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCG area in 2021-22.

A teenage girl showing signs of mental health issues (Picture posed by model)A teenage girl showing signs of mental health issues (Picture posed by model)
A teenage girl showing signs of mental health issues (Picture posed by model)

That was a detention rate of 83 per 100,000 people over the year.

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The NHS cautioned some figures are an undercount as a handful of organisations did not submit adequate data.

Nick Emmerson, vice president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: "These statistics show why reforming the Mental Health Act must be a priority for the Government.

“The current system means there is a risk that compulsory detention and treatment is used too often and that patients do not have enough involvement in decisions about their care.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to reforming the Mental Health Act and support the introduction of new safeguards for patients refusing medication."

The Government's white paper on mental health reform, published in 2021, set out proposals to raise the threshold for detention and allow patients to have more autonomy over their treatment, as well as tackle disparities faced by people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Paul Spencer, head of health, policy and campaigns at Mind, said he was "extremely concerned" by the figures.

"It is simply unacceptable that black people and those of us living in less well-off areas face greater rates of detention," he added.

"These figures paint a damning picture of the hurdles faced by marginalised groups in navigating the mental health system – which should be there to meet the needs of all of us – and illustrate how overdue reforms to the Mental Health Act and wider mental health system are."

A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said: “Our draft Mental Health Bill is currently going through pre-legislative scrutiny with proposals to ensure anyone in a mental health crisis is treated with dignity and respect, and given greater control over their treatment."