Mental health and mental capacity law: some mutual concerns for social work practice

Rapaport, Joan, Manthorpe, Jill and Stanley, Nicky orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7644-1625 (2009) Mental health and mental capacity law: some mutual concerns for social work practice. Practice: Social Work in Action, 21 (2). pp. 91-105. ISSN 0950-3153

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The roots of mental incapacity and mental health legislation in England and Wales are deeply intertwined. Changes in healthcare policy, human rights principles, demographics and social attitudes have highlighted deficiencies in the law to protect the interests and rights of people considered to lack decision-making capacity. This led to calls for legal reform from social workers amongst other groups. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 took shape alongside the more controversial Mental Health Act 2007. Whilst mental capacity and mental health legislation are separate once again, both are concerned with the care and treatment of adults who are perceived as lacking capacity to make specific decisions. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards enacted as part of the Mental Health Act 2007 to amend the Mental Capacity Act 2005 will change practice for many social workers as they will give rise to new assessments and roles. Social workers will need to be aware of the potential interaction of the two Acts to ensure compliance with the laws and to promote positive practice. This article explores the interface between the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Mental Health Act 2007 in England and Wales and examines and speculates on some of the possible implications for social work practitioners.

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