Since the Lockdown began, many people have found themselves at home feeling bewildered, fearful for loved ones, dependent on reduced pay from employers or receiving benefits. In some cases they have had no income at all. Everyone has had their daily routines changed.
Whilst little reaches the mainstream media, the impact of these changes on the mental health of potentially many thousands of people is and will be significant.
I felt compelled to act because of my own experience and filed for a Judicial Review against the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister at the High Court on the 21st of July on the basis that under the Human Rights Act 1998 my own right to ‘no torture or degrading treatment’ has been infringed upon by what they have done.
There has been a gross miscarriage of justice. The Mental Health Act 1983, which is the law governing the care of patients with mental health conditions in England was changed as part of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to allow just one medical professional to sign off on detaining a person in hospital, and possibly medicating for weeks [or months] at a time.
The amount of time for which a person can be detained pending an assessment of their condition has also been increased, leading to the patient’s will being over-ruled and that person being detained without a second opinion from a qualified professional.
With the changes that the Government has made without the scrutiny of Parliament, they have arbitrarily decided that it would be okay to lock up vulnerable people instead of finding ways to help in this time of national emergency.
So let’s give this some perspective.
According to a study published in The Lancet in July, population levels of clinically significant mental distress rose by 8.4% just a month into lockdown. Increases were greatest in 18–24 year olds, 25–34 year olds, and women respectively. By late April, 2020, mental health in the U.K. had deteriorated compared with pre-COVID-19 trends.
Coupling this with the Office of National Statistics 2018 analysis of deaths caused by intentional self-harm showing an increase but offering no explanation as to why, it is clear that ‘the science’ has not been considered at all in the Government’s decision-making process when changing the law.
There have been reports in the media of suicides committed during lockdown, children not being visited by social services, and domestic violence increasing. So, imagine an innocent person suffering domestic abuse during Lockdown, completely breaking down, and then having lust one doctor decide they need to be locked away in a tiny room and have medication forced into them ‘for their own good’. This sadly, is a very real prospect.
The Government has confirmed the law will only apply if mental health services don’t have enough staff. So if we have a second wave of the Coronavirus Pandemic as many now expect, we could at the very least find a lot of British people becoming long-term customers of the drug companies as a result.
I first raised my concerns on social media in March after the ‘lockdown’ was announced, and from the responses I received, It was clear that not many people were aware of the change in law and what the consequences could be – which still remains the case.
We need an increase in the standard of care enshrined in law. Now.
The Government filed their response with the Court in August and I will be reviewing the papers in the hopes of finding some common ground.
While I will fight this Case through the Court system if necessary, I would rather reach an agreement and then call my GP to book some counselling for myself.
So far, I have liaised with the Department for Health & Social Care and been briefed on the NHS Long-Term Plan for mental health care. I will ensure they stick to their word.
You can help me to help others suffering right now. Please share this article. Please share the NHS Long-Term plan. Most importantly, if you are suffering from any mental health conditions, please contact your Local Member of Parliament with your views on improvements needed to mental health care services – but DO highlight the good things too.
Keep Calm → Protect our Vulnerable → Save Lives. Lijeh Perez English Entrepreneur in the Mental Health Sector