Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act 2003

The Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 was passed by the Scottish Parliament in March 2003, Malcolm Chisholm the then Health Minister declared that " this is an auspicious moment for the Parliament and for everyone with an interest in mental health in Scotland." This milestone in mental health law came into effect on the 5th of October 2005 and has contributed to achieving the ultimate objective of mental health law - to make sure people with mental health problems can receive effective care and treatment.

Support information in relation to the Act for service providers, users and carers is available in the form of:

  • The Scottish Government website
  • Guide to Named Persons
  • A Guide to Advanced Statements
  • NHS Education for Scotland have developed on line training materials for frontline staff.
  • The Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland website
  • Mental Welfare Commission website

Named Person and Advanced Statements

Service users are encouraged to think about writing their own advanced statements and nominating a named person so that these safeguards can influence future care provision. To assist this we have included a brief introduction to advanced statements and named persons below:

  • Are You a Named Person? A Guide to Supporting the Role of Named Person
  • A Guide to Named Persons
  • A Guide to Advanced Statements

The following guidance has been produced by North and South Lanarkshire Council and NHS Lanarkshire to support staff to meet their duties in terms of named person and advanced statement:

  • South Lanarkshire guidance
  • North Lanarkshire guidance


N.E.S "e-learning" training package for the Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 is available to all staff, carers, service users & anybody with an interest who needs to be aware of the Act and how it will impact on their everyday practice.

N.E.S "e-learning" Training Package

Learning can be done at your own pace whenever and however you want to progress and to the level most appropriate to your sphere of practice. The main aims of training will be for staff to;

  • "Know what"- staff must have an overview of intent - capturing and embedding the Millan Principles and other key features
  • "Know how" - staff must be able to make day to day decisions of implementation fit with responsibilities under other compliance requirements ( freedom of information, human rights)
  • "Know best" - staff must promote best practice ( information management , risk assessment )

Principles of the Act

The expectation is that everyone involved in mental health practice should be aware of the 10 Millan Principles which underpin the Act . Practitioners must "have regard to them" whenever they "discharge a function by virtue of the Act", therefore anything done without regard to the principles could be open to legal challenge and potentially deemed unlawful (Scottish Executive 2004).

The 10 principles are:
Non-discrimination - People with mental disorder should, wherever possible, keep the same rights and entitlements as those with other health needs.

Equality - All powers under the Act should be exercised without any direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of physical disability, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion or national or ethnic or social origin.

Respect for diversity - Service users should receive care, treatment and support in a manner that accords respect for their individual qualities, abilities and diverse backgrounds.

Reciprocity - Where an obligation is imposed on an individual to comply with a programme of treatment of care, an obligation is also imposed on the health and social care authorities to provide safe and appropriate services, including ongoing care following discharge from compulsion.

Informal care -Wherever possible, care, treatment and support should be provided to people with mental disorder without the use of compulsory powers.

Participation - Service users should be fully involved, so far as they are able to be, in all aspects of their assessment, care, treatment and support. Their past and present wishes should be taken into account. They should be provided with all the information and support necessary to enable them to participate fully.

Respect for carers - Those who provide care to service users on an informal basis should receive respect for their role and experience, receive appropriate information and advice, and have their views and needs taken into account.

Least restrictive alternative - Service users should be provided with any necessary care, treatment and support both in the least invasive and least restrictive way, and in a place that allows the delivery of safe and effective care, taking into account the safety of others, where appropriate.

Benefit - Any intervention under the Act should be likely to produce a benefit for the service user.

Child welfare - The welfare of a child with mental disorder should be paramount in any interventions imposed on the child under the Act.

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