The proposed Mental Health Bill 2004 still has some serious flaws.
The Government needs to go back to the basic principles of primary care: helping people get their innate physical and emotional needs met. These needs, the ‘human givens’, are each individual’s genetic inheritance. (Our biology determines that we cannot avoid needing food, water, attention, status, friends, being stretched in life etc.) How well our needs are met clearly depends on the quality of physical and emotional nourishment provided by the environment.
Human givens are intertwined. That is to say, if we are prevented from getting our physical needs met — by famine, accident, illness or ailments — our emotional life is affected. And when our emotional needs are not met and we suffer emotional distress — such as anxiety, anger, depression or psychosis — it can affect our physical health too.
Primary care with sufficient resources and training to act proactively in the mental health domain is not currently available. Too many people fall through the cracks, and with this Bill, they could be imprisoned and given drug treatments or ineffective psychotherapy against their will.
Compulsion within a resource-constrained mental health service will focus attention on minimising treatment and put pressure upon clinicians to prescribe drug treatments rather than focus on human needs and individualised therapy.
We believe that if society imposes an obligation of treatment on an individual, it should impose a moral obligation on itself to ensure that treatment is appropriate and available.
Posted by: Eleanor