Independent Review of the Mental Health Act

The review will consider and make recommendations on improving legislation and practice around the Mental Health Act.

Purpose of the review

The review was set up to look at how the legislation in the Mental Health Act 1983 is used and how practice can improve. The purpose of the review is to understand the reasons for:

  • rising rates of detention under the Act
  • the disproportionate number of people from black and minority ethnic groups detained under the Act
  • processes that are out of step with a modern mental health care system

The review will seek the views of service users, carers, relevant professionals, and affected organisations in producing recommendations. It will produce a report with recommendations for change in autumn 2018.

Terms of reference

Further information



  • Professor Sir Simon Wessely – Regius Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London and president of the Royal Society of Medicine

Vice chairs

  • Steven Gilbert – service user and serious mental health living consultant
  • Sir Mark Hedley – retired high court judge
  • Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger – former CEO of the King’s Fund and Chair of the Liverpool Care Pathway Review


The review will set up a number of groups to help shape its recommendations. These groups will be made up of service users, carers and stakeholders.

The advisory panel will bring together stakeholders with an interest in the Mental Health Act and its application. For more information about the advisory panel, please see the document below.

The working group will deliver the direction set by the review’s leadership and advisory panel, supporting the development of recommendations. For more information about the working group, please see the document below.

The following groups will also be set up:

  • Service user and carer group – to reflect the views and experiences of people who have been detained (‘sectioned’) under the Act, or cared for people who have been sectioned

  • African and Caribbean working group – to focus on the experiences and perspectives of black people in relation to Mental Health Act legislation and practice, to review evidence and consider solutions

  • Evidence and Analysis group – to provide expert analytical advice to the chair and advisory panel

Approach to gathering evidence

The first phase of work, to spring 2018, will identify the review’s priorities. These will be set out in an interim report. The focus will be on the following sources of evidence:

  • engagement with service users and carers, through a survey, focus groups and a Service User and Carer group
  • engagement with professionals and advocacy organisations, through meetings, workshops and governance groups
  • a call for evidence
  • commissioning bespoke analysis, including academic literature reviews and data analysis

Evidence gathering update – 16 March 2018

To date, we have worked with close to 20 partner organisations to run over 30 focus group sessions to hear the experiences of service users and carers.

In February and March 2018 we ran major stakeholder workshops in London, Newcastle, and Cardiff. We will announce further workshops in future.

Our formal call for evidence ran until Monday 22 January 2018. We remain open to any submissions of evidence that would be relevant to the review, which can be sent to

Service user and carer survey – extended to 6 April

We want to hear your views if:

  • you are sectioned or have been sectioned under the mental health act in the past (service user)
  • you are caring for someone who has been sectioned or have done in the past (carer)

This survey has opened again. It will close on 6 April 2018. You can now complete the survey using an Easy Read version or British Sign Language (BSL) version.

Easy Read for service users

Complete the Easy Read online survey or download the Easy Read document for service users:

Easy Read document for service users (PDF, 3.13MB, 16 pages)

BSL for service users

Complete the BSL online survey or watch the BSL video of the questions for service users and download the survey relevant to you below.

Easy Read for carers

Complete the Easy Read online survey or download the Easy Read document for carers:

Easy Read document for carers (PDF, 3.26MB, 17 pages)

BSL for carers

Complete the BSL online survey or watch the BSL video of the questions for carers and download the survey document relevant to you below.

Online survey now reopened

The original online survey has opened again.

Download the survey relevant to you and send to or post it to the following address:

Independent Review of the Mental Health Act
39 Victoria Street

service user survey

carer survey

Contact details