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Fear, risk and mental health: observations on policy and practice

McLaughlin, Kenneth (2001) Fear, risk and mental health: observations on policy and practice. Practice, 13 (3). pp. 55-64. ISSN 1742-4909

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Mental health legislation in England and Wales is poised for its biggest change since the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA). A White Paper 'Reforming the Mental Health Act' (Department of Health, 2000) looks likely to become law. This paper attempts to locate these changes in a time of risk avoidance by discussing both legislators' and practitioners' pre-occupation with safety, and linking these to the increase in compulsory measures under the present MHA, and the proposed extension of such powers in a new MHA. It is argued that the rights of those with a psychiatric diagnosis are being eroded due to risk avoidance in both policy and practice.

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