chapter  18
Psychiatry: ethics and the law
ByBen Green
Pages 12

Most countries have mental health legislation to enable the state to provide care and treatment to severely mentally disordered individuals who for one reason or another refuse treatment. Such treatment is arranged for these individuals in the interests of their own health and the well-being of society as a whole. However, such legislation attracts controversy because it interferes with the autonomy of an individual. When is this kind of intervention justified? Is what is legal always ethical? Forensic psychiatry concerns itself with the actions of the mentally disordered or retarded that bring them into conflict with the law. The Mental Health Act covers specifically psychiatric or psychological treatments for mental disorders. It does not necessarily govern physical treatments for physical illnesses suffered by mentally disordered patients. Treatments outside the Mental Health Act are governed by the body of common law, the Mental Capacity Act and other relevant legislation.