Mental Health Legislation and Community Care

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This study paper aims to explain different terminologies commonly used in mental health and legislation as well as to present the legal aspects of mental health and community based care. It gives a broader perspective on the topic of mental health within a legal framework. The study paper helps identify the main aspects outlined in the Mental Health Legislation (2007). The powers of the police, courts, as well as ASW in relation to mental health are also explored. The study paper also examines the services offered under the Mental Health and Community Care legislations as well as the role of supervisors in relation to aftercare in the community. The paper also helps evaluate the teams and community care professionals that work with service users. It, therefore, presents the topic of Mental Health Legislation and Community Care in a comprehensive capturing its most fundamental aspects.

Definitions of Neuroses, Psychoses and Behavioral Disorders in Relation to Mental Health Legislation and Community Care

Mental Illness Mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts person's thinking, feelings, mood, perceptions, relationship with others, and daily normal functioning and results in inability to cope with demands of life. Mental illnesses are non-discriminatory illnesses that affect people of all ages, races, religions, or incomes. They are not caused by personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing.  People diagnosed with a serious mental illness participate in an individual treatment plan which helps them decrease the intensity and experience relief from their symptoms.

Neurosis Angyal (1965, p. 124) defines neurosis as a “disorder of sense and motion caused by a general affection of the nervous system”. Neurosis includes different psychological disorders and symptoms that have no physiological explanation. Neurosis is a mental disorder that results from the excitement of the nervous system. This condition is common and is generally accompanied by anxiety, depression, social phobias, acute, and personality disorders.

Psychosis Psychosis is a condition characterized by certain symptoms or psychoses that may accompany one or more mental disorders. Such symptoms may be caused by drug and alcoholic abuse, organic damage, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Psychosis, therefore, is not a mental illness but rather a symptom of a mental illness which may be attributed to various causes. A patient with psychosis tends to believe false beliefs which result from disordered thinking. The common symptoms are realistic hallucinations and persistent delusions.

Behavioral Disorders

Behavioral disorders refer to a range of developed strange, unpopular, or abnormal behaviors, which usually develop during childhood or adolescence stages of life. Although some behavioral issues or symptoms may be normal during childhood, those with behavioral disorders frequently develop patterns of aggression, disruption, defiance, disrespectfulness, extreme courage, and hostility. People with behavioral disorders experience problems regardless of whether they are at home, school or workplaces. Behavioral disorders also frequently interfere with personal relationships. Moreover, these individuals generally suffer from depression, personality or bipolar disorders. Children with behavioral disorders often suffer from frequent and extended tantrums, may hurt themselves or others, get involved in crime and other immoral behaviors.

Main Aspects of Mental Health Legislation

Powers of Entry and Inspection Section 115 of the Act gives to approved social workers the authority and prior permission to enter and inspect the places in which a mentally disturbed person stays. This can be done if a social worker suspects that this person is not getting appropriate care. This, therefore, means that an approved social worker does not have to seek the consent of any mentally disordered person to enter the place or inspect the conditions in which that person lives. This section prohibits a social worker to force entry to the place, however, in the situations when the entry is obstructed, he/she can regard it as an offense (Section 129) and request a warrant to continue investigation (Section 135).

Application for a Warrant to Search for and Remove Adults Section 135 allows an approved social worker to remove mentally ill adults if they are suspected of suffering, being ill-treated or neglected. This section, therefore, obligates an approved social worker to ensure that mentally disordered adults receive necessary treatment wherever they are and in whatever conditions they live. Section 136 gives the police the authority to remove an adult from a public place if he/she shows the signs of mental disorder, and therefore, is in need of medical attention, care, and control.

Admission to Hospital  According to sections 2, 3 and 4 approved social worker can authorize the admission of a mentally disordered adult to the hospital in case the criteria for compulsory admission set by Mental Health Act are met. This provision ensures that a mentally disordered adult receives medical care, attention and control as soon as it is required. However, the provision does not allow for all such situations or similar ones by setting certain requirements that must be fulfilled before the provision is applied.

Guardianship to a Vulnerable Adult Section 7 provides that the local authority can guard an adult if he has a mental illness, mental impairment or demonstrates anti-social or abnormal behaviors. Further, the adult can be guarded if it is required for his/her own welfare and for the welfare of other people. The provision further recommends that when considering guardianship, it is necessary to seek for legal advice and take into consideration the quality of care given by close relative. If the latter is not satisfactory, then displacement of relative can be requested through the Court.

Ill-treatment of Patients Section 127 of the Act states that it is an offence for an employee or a manager of a mental nursing hospital to neglect or badly treat a mentally disordered individual. The section states that it is an offence for any individual to ill-treat or willfully neglect a mentally disordered patient who is subject to his guardianship under the Act.

Powers of the Police and Courts and the Role of the Approved Social Worker as a Responsible Adult in Relation to Mental Health

Powers of the Police According to the Mental Health Act, the police is given a number of powers. The police officer has the power to intervene if a mentally disordered adult is in need of care and control.  Co-operation with the police is crucial where separation of the person from the care-giver is needed (Independent Police Complaints Commission n.d.). The police has obligations to keep the peace and safeguard the public. This implies the power to enter a property for saving life and the power to arrest a person of he/she is suspected in committing a crime. Besides, the police should be informed of situations where a criminal investigation is warranted under criminal law.

Powers of the Courts

The Act grants the courts with various powers. The courts have the power to interpret the provisions and sections of the MHA in cases where there are deadlocks on what the provisions state. The courts also have the power to judge, give directions and verdicts on any pending cases regarding mental illness or Community Care. In addition, the courts have the power to provide legal actions or separate mentally disordered persons from their care-givers. Lastly, they also have the power to provide legal protection of the rights of mentally disordered individuals and their care-givers. This Act obligates the police and the courts to offer special protection to vulnerable victims and witnesses of the crime. The courts also provide protection to the mentally disordered from harassment by their care-givers. This legislation can be used in situations when physical attack occurred but the vulnerable adult is being intimidated or harassed by an abuser. The Act has extended the protection role of the Court to cover both welfare matters and financial matters.

The Role of the Approved Social Worker Approved social workers are granted the responsibility to make assessments of situations and conditions in which patients live and make referrals where necessary. Social workers are also responsible for applying for admission of the patients with mental illness for assessment, which can last up to 28 days. Social workers “may at all reasonable times enter and inspect any premises in which a mentally disordered adult is living, if she/he has reasonable cause to believe that the patient is not under proper care (MHA 2007 Section 13)”. Approved social worker has the duty to make sure that the mentally ill adults are well taken care of and are well protected. Further, an approved social worker can apply for a warrant to remove adults with mental disorders who are ill-treated, neglected, kept under improper control, unable to take care of themselves or living alone. The approved social worker is also responsible of taking guardianship of the patient with mental illness.

The Services Provided Under Mental Health and Community Care Legislation Including the Role of the Supervisor in Relation to ‘Aftercare’ in the Community

Services Provided under Mental Health and Community Care Legislation       

There are various services provided under Mental Health and Community Care Legislation. The mentally ill persons are admitted for assessment and further treatment. In the process of admission, social worker ensures that the patient is well taken care of and his/her rights are well protected.  Guardianship is also provided particularly to the vulnerable adults with mental disorders.  Once taken to the hospital, a person is being diagnosed to identify if he/she is suffering from mental disorder. A mentally disordered person is then provided with necessary treatment to cure the illness. Psychotropic medicines are administered on the patient under the custody of the care-giver, who is a professional health practitioner. The Act also provides for legal protection of the mentally disordered people as well as for safekeeping of the vulnerable persons. The Act provides various programs which help persons at different workplaces to adhere to certain rules and principles. These programs include Human Resources and Training for Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Health Policy and Services, Workplace Mental Health Policies, etc.

Role of the Supervisor in Relation to ‘After care’ in the Community                                                    The role of the supervisor is to determine whether the patient with mental illness has recovered or is in the process of recovering. In case the supervisor concludes that the condition of the patient is deteriorating, he/she recommends for further admission and treatment of the patient (Durcan 2006). The supervisor also ensures that the patient’s premise is not worse than the place where the patient lived before the admission to treatment. In case the supervisor finds the premise dissatisfactory, then he recommends for legal actions on any persons who might have been involved in such malpractices. The supervisor makes sure that patients strictly follow the instructions and recommendations given by the medical professionals regarding compulsory post-treatment.

Different Teams and Community Care Professionals that Work with Service Users

The following are the different teams and community care professionals that work with service users under mental illness (Invernizzi n.d.).

Nurses 

These specialists look after the sick and ensure that the sick get necessary treatment as soon as they are admitted. The nurses work with mentally ill persons and their relatives to ensure that their rights are not violated. They ensure that the mentally disordered patients are taken care of well. Nurses have significant understanding of aspects of proper medical attention and can perform various duties including administering medication to the patients, giving them necessary instructions, etc.

Doctors

Doctors are professionals with exceptional skills on certain illness, disorders, and diseases. They prescribe medication and treatment for the sick individuals. In the case of mental illness, doctors diagnose the patients to identify the illness. Doctors also determine whether the mentally ill patient admitted gets treatment as an inpatient or outpatient. The doctors also prescribe drugs to be taken by patients during certain periods. They, therefore, oversee the condition of mentally ill patients by recommending drugs and medicines that lead to their recovery.

Health Practitioners other than Nurses and Doctors

 Apart from doctors and nurses, there are other medical and health practitioners. These professional serve the main purpose of providing advice regarding conditions of the admitted patients. They provide significant advice to doctors, nurses, and the health facilities at large. They can give general directions on what has to be done in order to treat the worst conditions of mental illnesses.

Psychiatrists

These professionals have skills and knowledge about treatment of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists work with patients to develop a mindset favorable for treating various mental disorders (Angyal 1965). They can categorize mental illnesses into various groups depending on the illness, its effects, causes and life cycle. Psychiatrists also prescribe the medications and drugs to be given to patients.

Approved Social Workers

These workers are responsible for making sure that patients are taken care of well. Their work is to make assessments of situations and conditions in which patients live and make referrals where necessary. These workers are also responsible for applying for admission for assessment of the patients with mental illnesses. They may enter and inspect any premises in which a mentally disordered adult is living if there is reason to believe that the patient is given proper care.

The Police

The police is also one of the groups that works with mentally ill people to ensure that they maintain peace and order and ensures protection of the patients’ property. The police also has a duty to arrest anybody assaulting mentally ill patients. The police may also help to ensure that patients are attended to promptly and immediately during any emergency.

Court Judges

Court judges preside over the cases that regard to the mentally ill patients. Judges help interpret the provisions and sections of the MHA in cases where there are deadlocks on what the provisions state. They also make judgments, give directions, and issue court verdicts on any pending cases regarding mental illness or community care.

Conclusion                                                          

In conclusion, the Mental Health and Community Care legislation provides the basis for solving any case in which mentally ill patients are deprived of their rights and privileges. The Act provides a legal protection to all those concerned including patients’ relatives. It is, therefore, by this Act that the mentally disordered patients live.

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