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Mental Health

Wider Remit Requested by Isle of Man Mental Health Commission

— April 16, 2024

The Scrutiny Committee has recommended extending the commission’s remit to improve mental health services.

The management of individuals with mental health challenges is one of the trickiest parts of law and public policy. On one hand, those individuals deserve to have their rights protected in full, without any unnecessary loss of freedom or agency over their own lives. At the same time, the public as a whole needs to be protected, and if someone may pose a threat due to their mental state, that factor needs to be considered simultaneously. This issue is recently coming to the foreground on the Isle of Man, and it has led to much debate over how the laws should be managed and handled in this place.

Like virtually all places, the Isle of Man has laws in place that govern the treatment of individuals with mental health issues. Some of the work to be done under this law is assigned to the Mental Health Commission, but the scope of that commission is relatively narrow, and it is limited in terms of some of the things it can do to help people and the public as a whole. While the commission is able to review and make recommendations based on complaints, it is restricted in some areas, like mental nursing homes and reviewing the care of patients that have been put in nursing homes.

Given the limitations that are in place for the Mental Health Commission, there are concerns that the commission isn’t able to accomplish everything that it could if the scope of its work were to be expanded. Under an expanded scope for the Mental Health Commission, it might be possible to address untreated mental health needs on the island, which would come at a good time considering the increasing demand for these kinds of services.

Wider Remit Requested by Isle of Man Mental Health Commission
Photo by RDNE Stock project from Pexels

The Mental Health Act that governs much of how this part of the law on the Isle of Man operates was passed in 1998. While some of that law remains relevant and useful today, it’s not all necessarily as suitable for the modern world as it could be. There have been a lot of changes in the 25+ years since that law was passed, and mental health issues are more prevalent now than ever before. If the law can be updated, and the Mental Health Commission can be given a wider berth to help people on the island, things should gradually improve.

In the end, how this matter plays out on the Isle of Man will be just one piece of a bigger global puzzle. There need to be clear mental health laws that do a good job of balancing individual rights and freedoms with the consideration of the safety of the general population. There is no doubt that additional mental health resources need to be available in most places, including on the Isle of Man, but exactly how those resources are deployed and how individual cases are managed still needs to be refined and adjusted appropriately.


Mental Health Commission calls for wider remit

Expanding the Remit of Isle of Man Mental Health Commission: A Step Towards Improving Access to Care for those with Untreated Mental Health Needs

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