Councillors consider Mental Health Act monitoring report.

The annual Mental Health Act Monitoring Report prepared by the Mental Welfare Commission (MWC)  was discussed by Members of the Council’s Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee today (14 February) which gave an opportunity to benchmark the performance of the Mental Health Officer (MHO) Team in Highland.
A Mental Health Officer’s role covers critically important times where individuals are assessed as requiring mental health care and treatment against their will. The use of compulsion, under mental health legislation, should last for the shortest possible length of time, and must be reported to the MWC. The autonomous role of the MHO is independent from the health and social care services, and is a fundamental safeguard enshrined in law, for individuals receiving a service.
With 3 Mental Health Officer teams in Highland supported by approximately 15 whole time equivalent staff the Council has been successful in recent years in ‘growing their own’ MHO workforce. Participation in a national award winning Trainee Mental Health Officer Scheme with Robert Gordon University has seen the recruitment of 7 trainee MHOs since summer 2022 with another 2 trainees employed in 2023 and plans to advertise for another 2 trainees in 2024.
The MWC annual report highlights various national concerns about the use of compulsion and states that ‘there is an expectation that emergency orders will be used ‘sparingly’ in the current Mental Health Act.’ Councillors were informed that despite an increase in the overall number of emergency detention certificates (EDCs) and short term detention certificates (STDCs) granted in Highland this year, there is a healthier proportion of STDCs compared to EDCs, in-keeping with best practice guidance.
The data within the report shows that performance by MHO staff in Highland was better than other authorities in several key areas and improving when benchmarked against local performance in previous years.  Members noted this performance whilst highlighting the challenges in delivering a service across the Highland area which requires to be available on a 24/7 basis.
Cllr David Fraser Chair of Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee said: “There are number of factors that we need to consider when reviewing the Commission’s report considering our geography and the role of other organisations such as the NHS and Police for example that can impact on Highland’s figures in the national comparators.
“I am pleased that our ‘grow your own’ initiative to recruit new staff has been and continues to be successful and I welcome the MWCs report which provides valuable information for the future planning and improvement of our Mental Health Service in Highland.”
The report can be viewed on the council's website.

14 Feb 2024