International Wellbeing Insights
Book Consultation

Changes to the 1983 Mental Health Act

Changes to the 1983 Mental Health Act Main Image

The world has changed significantly since 1983. Our way of life would be barely recognisable to someone from that era. The impact that technology has had on our daily lives, the way we engage and communicate with one another, the kind of jobs we do, and even the fundamental way we approach community and society is radically different. Even though this is the case, we often find the legislation that governs our daily lives is not regularly updated to reflect the changing times. One example is the 1983 Mental Health Act and although it’s long overdue, we welcome the major reforms that are being introduced.

Why is this relevant?

Mental health encompasses our psychological, social and emotional wellbeing. It influences how we think, feel and act. Problems with mental health and wellbeing can be incredibly detrimental to individuals, making decision making and even simple daily activities difficult for those who are struggling (2).

The statistics provide an alarming insight into the widespread impact of poor wellbeing. 1 in 4 people suffer with a mental health problem of some sort each year, and 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common health problem (like anxiety or depression) in any given week (2). Staggeringly, 70-75% of people with diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment at all (3). Unbeknown to most, mental ill-health is the second-largest cause of the burden of disease in England (4).

The difficulties that we’ve faced over the past year (such as the lockdowns, social distancing and isolation) mean that the situation with poor mental health has been significantly exacerbated. In 2020, the London Ambulance Service reported that they attended an average of 37 attempted suicides per day, in comparison to 22 in the previous year (5).

Why are the reforms necessary?

The 1983 Mental Health Act was created to protect the rights of people with mental health problems, their ability to access treatments and the procedure for hospitalisation. Sadly, this act was drafted using data from the 1950s, when the understanding of mental health and psychology was comparatively primitive.

The legislation from this act is used frequently to this day. From 2019-2020, 50,893 new detentions were recorded under the Mental Health Act, however, it is widely known that this does not paint an accurate picture as data was not submitted by several providers (6).  Concerning inconsistencies have also been identified as the number of those detained from a ‘Black or Black British’ ethnic group was 4 times higher than those from the ‘White group’ (6).

The amendments selected for this reform highlight the worrying shortfalls of the legislation, some of which are hard to comprehend.

What do the changes mean?

The new reforms show an attempt to tackle the mental health crisis and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. The goal is to empower individuals to have more control over their treatment, considering each scenario as unique. The changes also tackle concerning issues such as the disproportionate detention of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and those with learning disabilities or autism. It also outlines the need for improved care for patients within the criminal justice system.

What are the principles of the updates?

Any significant changes to the law need to be made in the interest of the people with the right priorities in mind.  The approach to the Mental Health Act reform has been shaped with four key principles, identified by both an independent review and those with a lived experience of the system:

  1. Choice and autonomy – ensuring service users’ views and choices are respected.
  2. Least restriction – ensuring the act’s powers are used in the least restrictive way.
  3. Therapeutic benefit – ensuring patients are supported to get better, so they can be discharged from the act.
  4. The person as an individual – ensuring patients are viewed and treated as rounded individuals.


This is a perfect opportunity to shine a light on the often neglected, misunderstood and underestimated issue of poor mental health. As much as we welcome this long-overdue reform, this is no panacea. It is a step in the right direction and offers hope for the thousands of people affected by poor mental health and mental illness each year.

As we find an increase in the number of people struggling with poor mental health or mental illness, we must  equip our people (particularly managers) to recognise the signs and symptoms. Early intervention, support and signposting to relevant resources is key. At the very least, understanding mental health can raise important awareness, destigmatise the subject, increase utilisation of support resources and could ultimately save someone’s life.

Are you doing enough to support your team’s mental health and wellbeing?

We offer a range of services including:

  • Internal Audits (Wellbeing Insights Audit, Individual Risk Assessments and Stress Skills for Managers)
  • Line Manager Training and Support
  • Mental Wellbeing Ambassadors programme
  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)
  • Excelling under Pressure: Mastering Personal Resilience
  • Tailored Workshops and Skills Training

The key thing is that we are all going to find our mental health and wellbeing is going to be tested and challenged by these trying times we find ourselves living through. Let’s engage your people in a meaningful dialogue, destigmatise the subject, make it ‘ok to not be ok’, express vulnerability (let’s reframe this as a sign of strength, not weakness) and ensure a great willingness to engage in the support resources you may have available.

Call us now on +44 (0) 20 3142 8659 or email to book in a complimentary, no-obligation consultation and explore how we can support your organisation in building a culture of wellbeing.



  2. McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey.
  3. Davies SC. Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2013, Public Mental Health Priorities: Investing in the Evidence [Internet]. 2014. Available from: uk
Get In Touch

Recent Posts

People, Culture, Wellness

How is Your Business Performing? Get Your Free Team Performance Scorecard!

Over the past year, many organisations have been forced to completely reevaluate how they do things in an attempt to adapt to the abnormal world we find ourselves in. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on many businesses and left employees with a feeling of disconnection and detachment. The social, economic, and financial implications are squeezing resour

Read More

People, Culture, Wellness

Stress Awareness Month April 2021

Stress Awareness Month is Underway   Considering the stress, anxiety and uncertainty caused by 2020, Stress Awareness Month 2021 is arguably the most important one since its inception over 20 years ago.   The events over the last year have thrown our lives into disarray with furlough, remote working, homeschooling, limited contact, restrictions on tra

Read More

People, Culture, Wellness, Environment

A Study on the Impact of Stress and Mental Health as a Result of the Pandemic

About the Study The restrictions put in place to tackle COVID-19 have had a significant impact on our daily lives. The way we live, work, communicate and interact has changed dramatically. This has been challenging and difficult for many as we come to terms with limited physical interactions, restrictions on gatherings and new working practices. As lockdown

Read More

Newsletter Signup

Stay in contact with us and we will let you know all the latest industry
insights as well as events as and when they become available.


A New Approach to Assessing the Causes of Stress Within your Organisation Icon

A New Approach to Assessing the Causes of Stress Within your Organisation

Find out more about how you ascertain your wellbeing starting point and the process of conducting a wellbeing audit.

A New Approach to Assessing the Causes of Stress Within your Organisation Download Icon View Resource
Creating an Effective Wellbeing Tender Icon

Creating an Effective Wellbeing Tender

A free guide to creating an effective wellbeing tender that will ensure you are clear about the objectives and aims of the project and how you will measure Return on Investment.

Creating an Effective Wellbeing Tender Download Icon View Resource
A Guide to Communication and Stress Icon

A Guide to Communication and Stress

A guide for employers and employees alike on how to communicate when stressed or dealing with someone who is stressed.

A Guide to Communication and Stress Download Icon View Resource