Gaps in mental health provision addressed
Legislation to address “major gaps” in Bermuda's mental health system was tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said the Mental Health Amendment Bill outlined requirements for determining mental capacity, including decision-making ability, for the first time.
She said: “The rationale for this amendment is that a patient cannot consent to or refuse treatment unless they have the mental capacity to do so and this is currently not present in law.
“The mental capacity framework will establish principles and criteria to determine if a person is able to make a decision and if they are deemed unable, to ensure the decision is made in their best interests.”
Ms Wilson added that the Mental Health Act does not at present have legal safeguards for patients who refused treatment or could not consent to treatment.
She said the law change was designed to cover patients under mental health orders, whether in hospital or allowed to live at home.
Ms Wilson added: “The Bill establishes safeguards for patients regarding consent to treatment, which will apply to all detained patients whether in hospital for treatment or living in the community under a community treatment order, which is the final change introduced by the Bill.”
Ms Wilson explained that the Bill included provisions that covered treatment of patients granted leave from the hospital.
She said: “This enables conditions to be set for patients to live in the community — such as continuation of medication — while also improving legal safeguards to protect the rights of the patient.”
Ms Wilson added: “Overall, the goal is to bring Bermuda's mental health legislation in line with contemporary methods of care while balancing the need to protect the rights of the individual patients and the need to ensure public safety.
“While more work will be needed on the broader mental health legislation and services, in this phase we have focused on addressing major gaps that exist.”
• To read Kim Wilson's statement in full, and for a copy of the Mental Health Amendment Bill, click on the PDF under “Related Media”