Reforms to the Mental Health Act will help tackle the disproportionate number of black people sectioned, the government has announced.
Black people are more than four times more likely to be detained under the act and more than 10 times more likely to be subject to a community treatment order.
The package of reforms includes piloting culturally appropriate advocates so patients from all minority ethnic backgrounds can be better supported to voice their individual needs and allow sectioned people to nominate family members to represent their best interests if they are unable to do so themselves.
The proposed changes build on the recommendations made by Sir Simon Wessely’s independent review of the Mental Health Act in 2018 and will ensure the act’s powers are used in the least restrictive way, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
The reforms will also ensure neither autism nor a learning disability are grounds for detention under the act and improve access to community-based mental health support to prevent avoidable sections.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: “I want to ensure our health service works for all, yet the Mental Health Act is now 40 years old. We need to bring mental health laws into the 21st century. Reforming the Mental Health Act is one of our central manifesto commitments, so the law helps get the best possible care to everyone who needs it.
“This is a significant moment in how we support those with serious mental health issues, which will give people more autonomy over their care and will tackle disparities for all who access services, in particular for people from minority ethnic backgrounds.”