Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Are mental health tribunals operating in accordance with international human rights standards? A systematic review of the international literature

Macgregor, Aisha; Brown, Michael; Stavert, Jill


Aisha Macgregor

Michael Brown


Mental health tribunals are responsible for making decisions about compulsory treatment for individuals considered a risk to themselves and others due to mental disorder. They are generally designed to provide safeguards for individuals subject to compulsory treatment by testing whether national legislative criteria and international human rights standards have been met. Despite this, they have been criticised for being dominated by the medical domain, focusing rigidly on legal criteria and for restricting human rights, including the rights to liberty and access to justice. As a result, questions have arisen over the extent to which mental health tribunals are in‐ deed operating in line with their legislative intentions and international human rights requirements. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesise international evidence on this and to assess the extent to which this is reflected in such literature. A systematic search of the literature was conducted on the 17 April 2018 for articles published between 2000 and 2018 in MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsychINFO, ASSIA and Web of Science. All study designs were included within this review, provided they reported empirical findings. Thirty‐two studies met the inclusion criteria. Eight themes were identified across the literature and these were participation, information and understanding, patient representation, the power of the medical domain, feelings of powerlessness, perceptions of fairness, risk and the impact on relation‐ ships. The findings call into question whether mental health tribunals necessarily operate in compliance with international human rights standards. This article suggests that mental health tribunals may need to do more to safeguard legislative principles and human rights standards that promote patient autonomy.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 11, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 16, 2019
Publication Date 2019-07
Deposit Date May 7, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 17, 2020
Journal Health and Social Care in the Community
Print ISSN 0966-0410
Electronic ISSN 1365-2524
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 4
Pages e494-e513
Keywords Human rights, mental health, mental health act, systematic reviews,
Public URL
Contract Date Aug 8, 2019


Are Mental Health Tribunals Operating In Accordance With International Human Rights Standards? A Systematic Review Of The International Literature (accepted version) (214 Kb)

You might also like

Downloadable Citations