Effective implementation of the Seni’s Law (Mental Health Units (Use of force) Act 2018)
Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Staff and patients throughout England have shared their experiences about the use of force in mental health units as part of a consultation response on the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 statutory guidance.
A report and study designed, project managed and drafted Circular3 on behalf of Colourful Minds, a Charitable Association founded to be an ambassador for mental wellbeing and mental health in and on behalf of Black and Minority Ethnic communities throughout England, was published on 30 September 2021.
You can find a full copy of the report below.
Focus group participants, one group comprising people with lived experience of use of force in a mental health unit, and a group second comprising staff who have either used force or witnessed the use of force in a mentalhealth unit, were consulted on elements of the statutory guidance and how it can be improved.
The focus groups suggest that the use of force in mental health units arise for many different and complex reasons - not all of which are as a last resort or to protect patients and staff safety. Investigators conducting the research heard that the ward environment, staffing levels, staff unconscious biases, and staff-patient relationships affect the risk of force being used in mental health units.
Findings suggest the draft guidance does not provide enough guidance for mental health trusts to be able to effectively implement the Act and reduce the use of force. The report has found the draft guidance does not do enough to address the greater risk most people from ethnic minority communities face from the use of force in mental health units.
The report made over thirty recommendations about how the draft guidance can be improved to reflect the objectives of the Act, and reduce the use of force in mental health units throughout England.
The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018, also known as Seni’s Law, in reference to Olaseni Lewis who died in 2010 having been restrained by 11 police officer at Bethlem Royal Hospital, makes provision for the oversight and management of appropriate force in relation to people in mental health units and other similar units.
Ajibola Lewis, mother of Olaseni Lewis and Campaigner said: “My family and I welcome this report based on feedback from people with lived experience of use of force and mental health staff.
“Our focus is on campaigning for the development of robust national guidance that will lead to a genuine change in culture and reduction in the use of force.
“We don’t want anyone else to suffer and die the way Seni died”
Michael Holland, Medical Director at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust said: “We must ensure children and young people, adults, and older adults who we serve in our highly diverse communities will experience the best standard of mental health care and treatment and be treated with kindness, compassion, dignity and respect when they use mental health services.
“As a Trust, we remain strongly committed to educating and supporting our staff to ensure we can deliver safe care to everyone in our services.
“We welcome the findings of this report, which we hope will support the Department of Health to further develop robust guidance for the staff working in mental health units in England.”
For more information contact us using our contact page.
About Colourful Minds
Colourful Minds is a volunteer led Charitable Association founded to be an ambassador for mental wellbeing and mental health in and on behalf of Black and Minority Ethnic communities throughout England.
• Advocates – on behalf of Black and Minority Ethnic Communities with mental health services to ensure their needs and interests are represented in policy
• Educates – provides information to Black and Minority Ethnic communities and mental health Professionals to improve mental health, mental well-being and reduce mental health stigma in Black and Minority Ethnic communities;
• Research – Develop insights on how mental health and well-being issues affect different Black and Ethnic minority communities to support improved service design and delivery and to develop new and more effective ways to engage with Black and Minority Ethnic communities about mental well-being and mental health
• Volunteering – Recruits and encourages qualified Black and Ethnic Minority professionals to volunteer, in the well-being and mental health sectors; to improve black and ethnic minority visibility and involvement in service design and delivery.
About South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust is a large and complex multi-site provider of mental health services – providing the widest range of NHS mental health services in the UK. We aim to make a difference to lives by seeking excellence in all areas of mental health and wellbeing. We also provide substance misuse services for people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Our 5,000 staff serve a local population of 1.3 million people. We offer more than 260 services including inpatient wards, outpatient and community service. We provide care for 41,000 patients in the community in Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Croydon. As well as serving the communities of south London, we provide more than 20 specialist services for children and adults across the UK including perinatal services, eating disorders, psychosis and autism.
We work closely with the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London. We are supported by Maudsley Charity. We are part of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre.
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