This guidance offers best practice advice on improving the experience of people who use adult NHS mental health services. This guidance aims to promote person‑centred care that takes into account service users' needs, preferences and strengths. People who use mental health services should have the opportunity to make informed decisions about their care and treatment, in partnership with their health and social care practitioners. If service users do not have the capacity to make decisions, healthcare professionals should follow the Department of Health's advice on consent and the code of practice that accompanies the Mental Capacity Act. In Wales, healthcare professionals should follow advice on consent from the Welsh Government.
The Equality Act 2010 replaces all previous anti‑discrimination legislation and includes a public sector equality duty requiring public bodies to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share certain protected characteristics and those who do not. The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The Act provides an important legal framework which should improve the experience of all mental health service users, particularly those from black and minority ethnic communities.
In this guidance, families and carers include relatives, friends, non‑professional advocates and significant others who play a supporting role for the person using mental health services. If the service user agrees, families and carers should have the opportunity to be involved in decisions about treatment and care. Families and carers should also be given the information and support they need.