Today, Munira called on Matt Hancock in Parliament to take action to address disparities in mental health treatment for those from a BAME background.

The Mental Health Act 1983 is the legislation in England and Wales that sets out when people can be detained and treated for their mental health in hospital against their wishes. In 2018, there was an independent review of this law (also known as the Wesseley Review). The Review made recommendations for improving the legislation.

Figures show that black African and black Caribbean are 4 times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act. Some of the recommendations from the Review intended to address BAME disparities in mental health treatment such as these.

In response to the Review, the Government promised to publish a White Paper (a Government policy document) and a new law taking some of these recommendations forward to improve the Mental Health Act. However, the Government is yet to do so.

Munira presses Govt for action

Questioning Matt Hancock in the House of Commons, Munira asked:

“The Secretary of State has rightly said that ‘Black Lives Matter’. The time for action is now. Yet latest figures show that black African and black Caribbean people are four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act.

So when will he be bringing forward his White Paper on the Mental Health Bill, and will he please ensure that that legislation enshrines the four principles laid out in the Wesseley Review including treating the patient as an individual in order that we start to tackle some of the racial disparities in mental health treatment?”

Matt Hancock responded:

“Yes Mr Speaker, we will be bringing forward that White Paper. The work has been ongoing even whilst we have been dealing with the Coronavirus. The Wesseley Review as far as I’m concerned was one of the finest pieces of work on the treatment of mental ill health that has been done anywhere in the world.”

Please see the video below: