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Meaningful participation or tokenism for individuals on community based compulsory treatment orders? Views and experiences of the mental health tribunal in Scotland

Macgregor, Aisha


Aisha Macgregor


The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 was considered as world leading when it was enacted due to its rights-based approach. Changes were made to encourage participation and enhance autonomy, including the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland (the tribunal) replacing the Sheriff Court in making decisions about compulsory treatment.

To explore the views of individuals on community based compulsory treatment orders (CCTOs) and independent advocates to assess whether participation in the tribunal is perceived as meaningful in practice.

A qualitative research design was adopted and semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 19 people with experience of being on a CCTO and eight mental health advocates in Scotland. The data were thematically analysed and explored using ethics of care principles.

Individuals faced barriers to participation, including mental distress, medication, and inaccessible communication, and both the tribunal process and outcome were important in shaping perceptions of fairness. A perceived unsuccessful outcome was found to undermine an ostensibly participatory process, and unequal power dynamics resulted in feelings of powerlessness.

The findings suggest that participation is often experienced as tokenistic in practice and that cultural change is required if people are to be meaningfully involved in tribunal proceedings.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 10, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 21, 2020
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Sep 26, 2020
Publicly Available Date Sep 28, 2020
Journal Journal of Mental Health
Print ISSN 0963-8237
Electronic ISSN 1360-0567
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 2
Pages 158-165
Keywords Mental health tribunals, community-based compulsory treatment orders, participation, rights
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