Adolescent Mental Health Care and the Law


Camilla Parker


£50, Legal Action Group



It is more challenging to advise young people and their carers about mental health law than adults, because the law concerning children and young people is so complicated and comes from different and often conflicting sources. These include the Mental Health Act, incapacity legislation, private family and care law. 

Adolescent mental health care

This book covers the intersection of these areas – and children and carers are in the middle of it. Advising them, their parents and carers is not straightforward.

The medical care and treatment of adolescents is equally demanding. Some disorders are difficult to diagnose and treat, because the young person’s personality is developing. Many severe lifetime illnesses and personality disorders begin to appear in early years. This gives rise to all sorts of concerns about how children are cared for, sometimes miles from their families in private hospitals rather than local NHS facilities. Parents often struggle for years to get help for loved ones and are then excluded from decision-making or getting information. They may see their child copy bad ways of coping. Some young people do not have anyone to advocate for them. Lawyers are involved as advisers for all the parties concerned.

This book covers: the use of the Mental Health Act in admission and the role of the independent tribunal; issues around consent to treatment and admission; planning for discharge; aftercare; and compulsory treatment in the community. It also contains an appendix with extracts from legislation.

As this book is for advisers, perhaps a future edition might include more on complaints, and a section on the practicalities of acting for younger clients (though I accept that is probably beyond the scope of this work).

Parker is excellent on the interaction between the various agencies and authorities that make up the legal intersection. Her book will be of great assistance to specialists in mental health law who are less familiar with children’s care law or vice-versa.

This is a very welcome guide to the law written by an experienced expert in the field.


David Pickup is a partner at Pickup & Scott Solicitors, Aylesbury