THE NEED to improve mental health services for the elderly will be a major theme for the MIND — the National Association for Mental Health — campaign in the coming year, according to the association's annual report published this week.
There is an urgent need to improve rapidly and fundamentally the variety of services for elderly mentally infirm people and MIND will also be helping to highlight projects which are already making a positive contribution to this work.
In the past year MIND has involved more than 11,000 volunteers in its work at a local level. There are now more than 150 local associations for mental health in England and Wales, providing services such as dropin centres, counselling services, holiday projects and sheltered workshops.
On a national level M1ND's Legal and Welfare Rights Service has received a one-year grant from the Department of Health and Social Services to set up a scheme to provide representation for patients appearing before mental health tribunals.
Any patient who applies to the association for a tribunal representative is helped free of charge. MIND has also run several residential courses to train lawyers and social workers on effective tribunal representation.
MIND has also taken the cases of four mentally abnormal offenders to the European Commission of Human Rights, claiming that the treatment of the people involved contravenes articles of the Human Rights Convention which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment and the detention of a mentally ill person without periodic judicial review.
The cases which have not yet been judged are also important because they challenge Section 65 of the British Mental Health Act which at present allows only the Home Secretary at his discretion to agree to the discharge of a patient held under this section.