Mental Health Legislation

  1. Hi Fellow Nurses!

    I'm a student nurse and I'm working on a bit of a tough assignment for my law & ethics subject at the moment and I'm looking for some input from seasoned, experienced nurses. Ethics is one of those subjects where you really need to be able to bounce ideas around, I think! Well, I find it helpful at least, anyway. This is a bit of a tough one and to be honest I'm not 100% sure why I chose this question out of all the options, but I'm determined to see it through! I was hoping that the advice/input of seasoned and experienced nurses might help me better gauge the issues at play and my understanding of the reality of practice.

    Here goes: the questions center around the unwarranted use of the Mental Health Act (i.e. involuntary detention and treatment) and appropriateness of the basis of specific mental health legislation existing (i.e. is it discriminatory to have a piece of legislation dictating the rights and liberties of a population group based on their psychiatric diagnosis?)

    My questions for you guys are...

    1. In your experience of mental health/psychiatric nursing, do you think that practice equates the provision of least restrictive treatment with maximum involvement of the patient, preserving patient autonomy and liberty or has your experience of mental health nursing leant more toward that of the use of mental health legislation for clinician connivence, deprivation of dignity and discrimination based on psychiatric diagnosis/presentation?

    2. Do you think it's ethically appropriate for there to be separate mental health legislation that groups the mentally ill into a minority deviant to the "normal" population, allowing different treatment? (E.g. the detention of a mentally ill patient because of the risk of violence, not because they actually committed a violent act - something which is illegal if someone is sound of mind.)

    If you have any other issues for discussion or opinions I'd really love to hear them. This is a really tough one!