Beyond the call of duty: A qualitative study into the experiences of family members acting as a Nearest Relative in Mental Health Act assessments.

Jeremy Dixon, Kevin Stone, Judy Laing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research shows that tensions between family carers and professionals become acute where the issue of compulsory admission to hospital is at stake. In England and Wales, a specific family member is appointed to safeguard the interests of a person assessed under the Mental Health Act 1983. This currently occurs through the Nearest Relative role. The Government is proposing to replace this with a Nominated Person role, chosen by the service user. Drawing on the concept of carer burden, this study reports on the views of 19 Nearest Relatives in England to discover their experiences of being involved in a Mental Health Act assessment. Participants identified that they undertook the role due to a sense of duty. Their experiences were mixed with participants highlighting both feelings of distress during the assessment and feelings of relief once their relative had been detained. Participants reported feeling conflicted when their relative was detained and feelings of frustration towards mental health services. The findings have implications for proposals to reform the Mental Health Act 1983. They show that education and support programmes should be created for Nearest Relatives/Nominated Persons and that research is needed to assess whether such support is effective at reducing carer burden.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbcab258
Pages (from-to)3783-3801
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Volume52
Issue number7
Early online date29 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Carers
  • Mental health
  • Mental Health Act
  • Nearest Relative
  • Nominated Person
  • Social Work
  • AMHP

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