People with a mental disorder are among the most excluded in our society.
The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, which came into force in October 2005, places a clear statutory duty on the local authority to promote wellbeing and social development for those who have, or have had, a mental disorder. In terms of the Act, mental disorder includes mental illness, learning disability and personality disorder 1.
This document provides aspirational guidance and best practice, and includes tools and background information, to enable individuals and services in local authorities to understand and fulfil their duties under Sections 25-31 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003. These duties have an impact on all aspects of life that come under the aegis of local authorities, such as education, leisure services, economic development and housing. Thus, the tools and practices given here are pertinent to all local authority services, not just social care. In a number of areas of action, local authorities will need to work with their community planning partners to deliver these statutory duties.
The duties under Sections 25-31 of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 sit within a policy framework that addresses inequalities and the promotion of wellbeing . Local authorities already have a power to advance wellbeing under Section 20 of the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003. They are also required to ensure equal access to services under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. By fulfilling their duties under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, local authorities may well find that they are simultaneously meeting the requirements of other Acts 2. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, people with a mental illness that has a substantial, adverse and long-term effect on their ability to do everyday things are covered, in addition to people with other disabilities. It is unlawful for service providers to treat disabled people any less favourably than others because of the disability, and service providers are now required to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to allow access to services. To meet the needs of those with a mental illness, measures might include addressing staff attitudes, making flexible learning available, adjusting marketing, providing in-reach services and supporting buddying schemes.
The measures required under Sections 25-31 should be about making services the best they can be for all members of the community and, as such, should not necessarily involve an additional financial burden to local authorities. However, all local authorities have received funding to assist with implementing the Act and almost all have enhanced services in ways that should make implementing these Sections easier.