Psychiatric Wards Neglect Duty to Parents

  • The Mental Welfare Commission (MWC) says psychiatric wards need to be more considerate of the impact on children and their parents.

    They have warned that when people are given compulsory mental health treatment, staff are often unaware of their duty to the person as a parent and to the child.

    The healthcare staff often neglect their responsibilities to help parents to maintain contact with their children.

     The watchdog found that this is due to lack of awareness of their responsibilities and have said that they need to ensure they conduct proper assessments of family circumstances.

    They found that from a sample of paperwork that at least a quarter of patients had children under the age of 18, but this had not been recorded.

    They have also recommended that hospitals should provide child-friendly spaces in the psychiatric ward to encourage a comfortable time together.

    They stress that it is important  to provide information to children about mental illness in a way they are able to understand.

    The duty to the parents and their children is in Scotland's Mental Health Act in 2003.

    George Kappler, chief social work officer at the MWC in Scotland, said:

    When the state intervenes to disrupt the normal parent-child relationship, there is a duty placed on the state to try to mitigate the impact of that as much as possible.

    Section 278 is buried deep in an act which is 330 pages long. It's a pretty progressive piece of legislation, but we feel a lot of people still aren't aware of it.

    Sometimes it comes down to leadership on a ward, or the training people had received.

    There were some pockets of good practice perhaps because people were parents themselves. It was inconsistent across the country, although everyone recognised it was good practice.



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