Civil justice and mental health – present and future

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Date(s) - 18/01/2011
4:45 pm - 6:00 pm

Commonwealth Club

A roundtable discussion about the relationship between mental health and civil legal problems, in the context of the Coalition Government’s interest in new approaches to public health.

Location: Commonwealth Club, 25 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5AP

Date and time: 16.15-17.45, January 18th, 2011

Over the last decade a growing body of research has shed light on the relationship between mental health and certain civil legal problems, notably debt, welfare benefits and money advice.

Simultaneously, the form and availability of services for individuals with mental health problems are changing:

  • Community treatment orders are being used to care for people with serious mental illness more than was anticipated by the authors of the Mental Health Act 2007.
  • The advent of ‘polycentres’ and ‘polyclinics’ seeks to secure the benefits of co-locating primary care and certain other public services.

More widely, pressure on funding is requiring all planners and providers of public services to reconsider what must be achieved, at what cost, and how – making the development of more efficient, better integrated models of delivery and care ever more desirable.

These issues have become particularly urgent in the context of the Ministry of Justice’s proposed reforms to legal aid in England and Wales, which would see most civil justice matters taken out of the scope of legal aid completely.

In this context, the Strategic Society Centre hosted a roundtable debate explore:

  •  What do we know about the experience of civil justiciable problems among people with mental health problems, and they way in which they access services?
  • What are the implications for people with mental illness of removing most social welfare law matters from the scope of legal aid?
  • What are the implications of the proposal for requiring people seeking civil legal advice to make initial contact with legal aid services via the phone?
  • What are the gaps in evidence required to help policymakers adjust policy to this new environment?

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