This legislation will help ensure mental health units are the caring, therapeutic environments they should be for all patients, write Jemima Olchawski of Agenda, Deborah Coles of Inquest and six others

That the mental health units (use of force) bill became law today is fantastic news for patients and staff in mental health units across the country. This legislation aims to reduce the widespread use of distressing and potentially dangerous restraint against both children and adults, which results in thousands of injuries every year and is linked to dozens of deaths.

Aside from the physical damage, it can also have a devastating impact on patients’ psychological wellbeing, retraumatising those who have experienced violence and abuse. The act, also known as Seni’s law after Seni Lewis, who died after being excessively restrained by police officers while a patient in a mental health hospital (Report, 7 February 2017), will improve accountability in mental health units.

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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17 November 2018