Mental health units (Use of Force) Bill – Seni’s Law

I was extremely saddened by the case of Seni Lewis, who tragically died after being restrained face-down in a mental health hospital in England.

As health is a devolved matter, the Scottish Government has responsibility for this policy area in Scotland. While I am supportive of the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill, it would not extend to Scotland.

In Scotland, most psychiatric care units work with the Scottish Patient Safety Programme. Since 2014, the work by staff in mental health settings has resulted in up to a 64% reduction in patients self-harming, up to an 80% reduction rate in the need to restrain patients and up to an 80% reduction in rates of violence.

Police Scotland Safer Communities, in partnership with NHS Health Scotland, has also developed mandatory training packages for officers and staff to raise awareness of mental health distress and suicide intervention. Police Scotland is the first police force in the UK to introduce mandatory mental health awareness training for its workforce.

More widely, on the issue of mental health, I support the Scottish Association for Mental Health’s call for a 10-year plan for improving mental health services and the principle of ‘Ask once, get help fast’. I believe that we need a generational shift in mental health services with access to a mental health counsellor for every school and crisis mental health services.

The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons on 6 July and will now progress to the House of Lords for further scrutiny. I will follow the progress of this Bill closely.

I can assure you that I will continue to back measures to improve support for mental health patients and their families, both in Scotland and across the UK.