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Impact of Legislation and policy on the social worker and service user relationship with the mental health practice

The health and well-being of the nation should take priority in the policy and spending of any government. The Federal Government of the UK has taken some right steps in this direction in the last few years. The Human Right Act 1998, the Mental Health Act 19983, the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and the Care Act 2014 are some examples in relevant legislation. This paper critically discusses these Acts, and their impacts on service users and social workers, the ethics, and values in social workers are also part of this study.

  1. The Human Right Act 1998 and the Mental Health Act 1983

The most comprehensive law that protects the right of the public in the UK is the Human Right Act 1998; it gives citizens the right to life and a fair trial. There is a total of sixteen rights in total, the good part of the Act is that foreign nationals are also protected, the human rights activists and social workers praise this Act as it also protects the rights of detainees in the prisons (Curtice,2016). It makes compliance binding for all the bodies exercising public functions and the public authorities. The legal experts advise that before resorting to legal action under this Act, the affected party should try to resolve the matter informally. Article eight of this Act is vital from the perspective of mental health (Feldman, 1999). Had this legislation not been in place there would have been a lot of issues and litigation regarding human rights.

The Mental Health Act 1983 is another important legislation in the UK that covers the issues and matters related to the patients suffering from mental health issues and the health organizations and experts dealing with such patients. There have been certain changes in the Mental Health Act of 1983 through the Mental Health Act of 2007. Had this act not been in place there would have been complications regarding the legal matters relating to mental health patients and medical professionals treating such patients.

  1. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding (the Mental Capacity Act 2005)

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 which became effective in 2007 imposes certain restrictions on the liberties of the patients to safeguard their lives and protect the lives and properties of the people around such patients. Someone else has to make decisions on the behalf of mental health patients (such as people with dementia), this Act provides core guidelines for the protection of the rights of mental health patients. The decision that the patients made may be overridden by their healthy caretakers so in this way it restricts civil liberty to protect the interest of all parties involved. If these guidelines were not there would have been no legal protection for the healthy caretakers making a decision on the behalf of mental health patients (Boyle, 2008).

  1. The Care Act 2014

There has been a consistent rise in the cost of health care in the UK in last few years and the public was demanding that there should been certain measures like in The USA (The Obama Care) (Koh and Sebelius, 2010). The UK government finally responded in the form of The Care Act of 2014; this Act is the right step in the direction to provide universal health care to the general public. The experts are stills evaluating its impacts on society as it would certainly take time before the actual data and figures are available for analysis. If the data from the USA is taken as a proxy (this kind of bill was passed in the USA in 2010 by the name of Obama Care), it may be concluded that a major chunk of the public in the country would come under the health net, and the society will reap its benefits.

  1. How legislations and policies impact service users and social worker

The legislation and policies impact service users and social worker in both positive and negative ways. It would be wrong to say that the impact of various legislation is positive only. A critical analysis of the overall health system shows that when the legislations provide a legal right to patients (the health service users) at the same time, the legislations and policies impose restrictions on the service providers(the hospital, health care facilities, and health experts). Similarly, when these legislations provide rights to the nursing, healthcare staff, and doctors, at the same time these regulations impose certain restrictions on the rights of patients. As discussed earlier in this critical discussion that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 deprives patients of certain liberties and rights like independent decision-making and free movement.

  1. Social work Ethics and Values

In recent times there has been a greater emphasis on moral values and the ethical code of conduct by all segments of society and especially for social workers as they are considered role models by the public. It is not easy to maintain the trust of the public, the social workers have to comply with the regulations in true letter and spirit and follow moral guidelines in the delivery of social service.


Boyle, G. (2008). The Mental Capacity Act 2005 : promoting the citizenship of people with dementia?. Health & Social Care in the Community, 16(5), pp.529-537.

Feldman, D. (1999). The Human Rights Act 1998 and constitutional principles*. Legal Studies, 19(2), pp.165-206. (2016). Human Rights Act 1998 | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Jul. 2016].

Koh, H. and Sebelius, K. (2010). Promoting Prevention through the Affordable Care Act.New England Journal of Medicine, 363(14), pp.1296-1299.



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