The Mental Health Act Commission
Composition The Mental Health Act Commission was established in 1983. It consists of some 170 members, including lay people, lawyers, doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists and other specialists. Commissioners are part-time and most are working professionals. They are expected to devote about two days a month to Commission work. The Commission also has a panel of about 150 consultant psychiatrists who operate as second-opinion appointed doctors (SOAD) for the consent to treatment provisions of the Mental Health Act. There is a roughly equal number of men and women on the Commission. The proportion of current Commission members from black and minority ethnic groups is 24 per cent and has increased steadily over the past few years. Commission members fall into two categories: visiting Commission members, whose primary duties include examining statutory documentation, meeting with detained patients, and taking up immediate issues on their behalf, and Commission members, who, in addition, lead the small groups that undertake the visits and write the visit reports.