We are very grateful to the Edge Fund for their grant of £500 towards the costs of our mental health campaign:-
Should Autism be classed as a mental disorder in the Mental Health Act?
How much does the `chemical coshing` of autistic people contribute to their increased risk of mental health problems?
What role do psychotropic (psychiatric) drugs play in the shortened life expectancy of autistic people?
These are some of the questions we have been researching as parents over a long period of time, because of the distressing experience of some of our members at the hands of the Scottish mental health system. Our conclusions mirror those of the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Like us, this committee is against the forced treatment of people, simply for being disabled.
The UN's Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has issued a statement and guidance on the implementation of Article 14 of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
`Guidelines on Article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - The right to liberty and security of persons with disabilities (Adopted at the CRPD 14th Session (17 August-4 September 2015)`:-
Statement on article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
This supersedes their previous statements and cements the committee's position on the forced incarceration and `treatment` of disabled people, just for being disabled -they're absolutely against it. There's no doubt about international policy in this area, and the committee makes very clear that it expects state parties and human rights organisations, amongst others, to take due cognisance of their guidance and to ensure that national policy and legislation adheres to it.
Autism Rights has consistently lobbied and campaigned since October 2011 to change the Mental Health Act so that it is no longer the case that someone with Learning Disabilities or an Autistic Spectrum Disorder can be compulsorily treated, just for having a disability. Take a look at our track record to see how much effort we have put into this. It was only after the publication of these two articles, written by Fiona Sinclair of Autism Rights, that the Scottish Government stopped saying that there was no need for change:-
Of the 4 Amendments submitted by Autism Rights to the 2015 Review of the Mental Health Act, our amendment on data and statistics was included in this Act. The other amendments on Fatal Accident Inquiries, the use of psychotropic drugs and a review of the inclusion of people with Learning Disabilities and ASD within the provisions of the Act are all now being actioned through consultation and review.
Finally, the Scottish Government decided to commission a `Scoping Exercise`, which we took part in, that has now led to a Review of the Mental Health Act (Scotland) with regard to the current inclusion of people with Learning Disabilities and ASD within the provisions of the Act. Here's the weblink to the current Review of the Mental Health Act:- https://www.irmha.scot/
There is, of course, no guarantee that the Review will make the recommendations we seek, or that the Scottish Government will accept the recommendations of the Review. That depends on the pressure that we can bring to bear, with your support. We have no doubt that this pressure is required, as we have deep reservations about the conduct of the Review. As far as we have been able to determine, not one of the advisors advising the Review team is a parent of an autistic person who is or has been subject to compulsory treatment under the Mental Health Act. There would not even seem to be anyone who is autistic who has been subject to forced treatment who is in an advisory position either.
The Scottish Government has since announced a wider Review of the Mental Health Act as a whole which, while welcome, will add to our workload:-
If anyone is any doubt at all that things have become so much better for people with ASD in Scotland, and that our campaign is based on historical cases, the recent press coverage of the incarceration of autistic people in Carstairs and other mental hospitals should put that notion to rest. The Mail on Sunday's `Locked Up for being Autistic` campaign, started by Ian Birrell, has been extended by Georgia Edkins to Scotland:-
'BRUTALISED - an independent review commissioned by @scotgov has laid bare a catalogue of serious complaints from people with learning disability and autism in Scotland.'
Fiona Sinclair, of Autism Rights, is quoted as part of this campaign.