Invitation: Working the past: Aboriginal Australia and psychiatry

A Sydney Ideas forum at the University of Sydney, Wednesday 7 March 2018

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have historically been subject to much more misdiagnosis, mistreatment, incarceration and coercion than other Australians in the hands of psychiatric institutions, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. The ramifications of psychiatry’s sometimes unwitting, indifferent or knowing complicity in past harmful practices and beliefs have been far-reaching. They extend from the health and well-being of the individual patient, to human rights and social justice concerns that prevail in contemporary Australian society.
How do we come to grips with the past, and how do we do so in just ways? What are the responsibilities of psychiatry to ensure a contribution to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional health and well-being? What can apology and other forms of recognition achieve? What can we learn from other projects of apology and recognition? These questions will be the basis of our discussion by a panel of distinguished speakers, including Professor Steven Larkin, Professor Alan Rosen, Professor Frank Schneider, Ms Joanne Selfe, and Dr Robyn Shields.

Wednesday 7 March
6 – 7.30pm
Law School Foyer
Level 2 Sydney Law School
Eastern Avenue
The University of Sydney, Camperdown 2006

Find more information and register for the event here. Note the event is free and open to all, but online registration is essential.

The UK Mental Capacity Act and consent to research participation: asking the right question

Journal of Medical Ethics 2018;44:44-46.
Author: P Willner
“This paper considers the meaning of the term ‘intrusive research’, as used in the UK Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA), in relation to studies in which an informant is asked to provide information about or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity to consent, and who is not otherwise involved in the study. The MCA defines ‘intrusive research’ as research that would legally require consent if it involved people with capacity. The relevant ethical principles are that consent should be sought from people who would be affected by a piece of research and that this requirement should be implemented proportionately.”
Find article here.

Sexual abuse in Victoria’s mental wards is bad and getting worse

The Age, 11 December 2017
Author: Farrah Tomazin
“Fairfax Media can reveal that vulnerable people seeking psychiatric treatment in state-run hospitals continue to face unacceptable rates of sexual assault and violence, mostly from other patients, amid accusations that some staff are trying to cover up the extent of the problem.”
Find article here.

Woman who rejected breast cancer diagnosis may undergo surgery without her consent

BMJ 2017; 359: j5358
Author: Clare Dyer
“A 66 year old woman with paranoid schizophrenia may be put under general anaesthetic and have surgery for breast cancer without her consent, a High Court judge has ruled. Mr Justice Keehan declared that the woman, referred to as JT, who denied that she had cancer, lacked the capacity to decide for herself whether to have the treatment.”
Find article here.

Does section 63 of the Mental Health Act 1983 disempower patients with mental illness? Analysis of the case law

Medico-Legal Journal, 2 November 2017
Author: Bhanuka Senasinghe
“In England and Wales, detained psychiatric inpatients are treated under section 63 of the Mental Health Act 1983. This paper critically analyses the relevant law and considers the arbitrary distinctions between consent for treatments for mental illnesses and physical conditions, which may disempower patients with mental illness. Section 63 states that (for detained psychiatric patients) consent for medical treatment for patients’ mental disorder is not required. The treating clinician responsible for a patient decides what this medical treatment entails. This article focuses on three main legal cases: B v Croydon Health Authority, Tameside and Glossop v CH and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust v RC and considers whether s 63 disempowers patients with mental illnesses.”
Find article here.

Increase in abuse and neglect in mental health and disability facilities

SMH, 19 October 2017
Author: Miki Perkins
“In one home for people with disabilities, toilet paper was rationed. In another, a resident was left in the garden for two hours on a roasting hot day. He had to be taken to hospital for exposure and sunburn. These are just two examples among hundreds of incidents of abuse, neglect and violence reported by community visitors – volunteer advocates who visit the state’s mental health and disability facilities to check on the welfare of residents.”
Find article here.

IN THE MATTER OF ED (Mental Health) [2017] ACAT 84

Decision date: 18 October 2017
“MENTAL HEALTH – authorisation of short-term involuntary detention for immediate treatment, care or support – statutory preconditions for initial detention by a doctor for 3 days – Tribunal order extending the period of involuntary detention for a period not longer than an additional 11 days – Tribunal review of involuntary detention under section 85 of the Mental Health Act – relevant conditions and when they must apply for exercise of discretionary power.”
Find decision here.

Locked up, locked out – inadequate stats on mental health are failing prisoners

The Guardian, 11 October 2017
Author: Mary O’Hara
“Prisoners are among the most vulnerable people with mental health problems, yet the government does not collect even basic information on how many inmates have a mental illness, or the total number in need of treatment. This means, according to campaigners, that they are being repeatedly let down by the system.”
Find article here.

How should the government overhaul mental health laws?

The Guardian, 10 October 2017
Author: Saba Salman
“The promise to overhaul the Mental Health Act 1983 is one of the few Conservative party manifesto pledges to survive the election. The decision to reform the act, which appeared in the Queen’s speech in June, means the government is committed to taking steps to overhaul the legislation in the next 12 months.”
Find article here.