Investment in mental health services is urgently required.
New figures from the Mental Welfare Commission showed nearly half of mental health emergency detention certificates (EDCs) issued last year did not have the consent of the specialist mental health officer.
EDCs allow someone to be kept in hospital for up to three days. They are used in crisis situations to detain a person who needs urgent care or treatment for mental ill health.
The Mental Health Act states that there should be consent from mental health officers before they are issued whenever possible.
People experiencing a severe episode of mental ill health who need compulsory care are at their most vulnerable.
Mental health officers have the training needed to explain what is happening to individuals who may be confused or disorientated and the experience to make a clear judgement on whether compulsory detention is required.
In 2015 the majority of Scotland’s councils reported they were dealing with a shortfall in mental health officers. The fact that nearly half of EDCs issued last year did not have the consent of a mental health officer show how stretched resources have become. This is not good for staff, who find themselves overworked and it is certainly not good for patients.
Almost a thousand EDCs were issued last year without full safeguards in place.
Mental health has been the Cinderella service of our NHS for too long. Urgent investment is required to ensure that people do not fall through gaps in the system and we need a new mental health strategy as a matter of urgency.