This module looks at mental health law in specialised areas,
including for children and young people and individuals with
intellectual disabilities and/or autism.
The first part will cover the use of the Mental Health Act (MHA)
in children (under 16) and young people (16 and 17). The law
relating to the admission and treatment of children and young
people can be complex, and also requires familiarity with other
legal frameworks, such as the Children Act and the Mental Capacity
Act (MCA). Those with parental responsibility for a child or young
person may be in a position to authorise care and treatment,
especially for younger children, but there are limits to that
authority and professionals need to have a clear understanding of
when that consent can be relied upon, but also when a different
legal framework would be more appropriate.
The second part of this module considers the law in relation to
people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism. The MHA gives
significant powers and its complexity can be confusing to those who
use it, let alone when used for people with intellectual disability
The MHA Code of Practice (Department of
Health, 2015) indicates that a person can no longer be detained
due to learning disability (i.e. intellectual disability) alone,
but can be if this disability is 'associated with abnormally
aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct'.
The Act's definition of mental disorder includes the full range of
autism spectrum conditions, even if the autism is not associated
with abnormally aggressive behaviour or seriously irresponsible
This teaching module, with the accompanying notes, covers
definitions, explains the importance of Care and Treatment Reviews
(CTRs) (which are not laid out in statute, i.e. not set out by the
MHA), and describes the implications of the 'Secretary of State for
Justice v MM' case ( UKSC 60) in
practice for people with learning disability or autism.