The Guernsey Mental Health Law celebrates its first year anniversary on 8 April.
The law has modernised the statutory rights for individuals who are voluntarily or compulsorily held in a place of safety - more commonly referred to as being sectioned. Guernsey Mind chairman, John Curran, said the law had provided users with clarity and a clear, more expert path to assistance.
“The Mental Health Law is designed to protect people with a severe mental health condition; a person can only be sectioned if there is an urgent concern that they will harm themselves or someone else,” he said
“However, as with any law that takes away the rights of an individual to make their own decisions, there needs to be safeguards in place to ensure that they have been sectioned only as a last resort and that, while in hospital, they are receiving the care and support they need to start their recovery.”
Nicky Le Noury, Secretary of the Mental Health Service User Group, said: “Our new mental health law gives us the right to appeal to a tribunal for the first time and the right to a second opinion about our medication from an independent responsible medical officer.
“It also transfers the responsibility of deciding who needs to be in a place of safety from our local parish constables to an approved social worker. It has been desperately needed for a long time.”
To celebrate the first anniversary of the law and to continue to raise awareness of mental health issues Guernsey Mind is taking its cue from the wider ‘We All Matter, Eh?’ disability campaign and sending a ‘How you feeling, Eh?’ campaign box to over 100 local employers, bars and restaurants.
Guernsey Mind operations and development manager, Emily Litten, said: “We also want to encourage people to stay mentally healthy and assist people to understand how to access to local resources.
The campaign box contains pens, stress balls, beer mats and posters as well as information about local services. There are also surveys in the box for employers to ask their staff and managers what they can do to make their workplace more healthy.
“By sending out this box Guernsey Mind hope to remind us all that mental wellbeing is a serious issue and to celebrate the anniversary of a long overdue piece of legislation that ensures the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in society,” Mrs Litten said.
“Feeling mentally healthy means you are able to cope with the normal problems and stresses that occur in life - usually with a little help from friends, colleagues or relatives when things get really tough. A good support network makes the good times better and the bad times tolerable. We hope that employers will take this opportunity to ask their staff how they are feeling and maybe take a little time to consider this for themselves as well.”
To find out more or to order a Guernsey Mind box visit www.guernseymind.org.gg.