Leading mental health lawyers have warned that whilst the current lockdown across the region is clearly in the best interests of people’s physical wellbeing, it is also causing additional problems for those with mental health issues.
Elzbeth Kenny is a Senior Solicitor with North Wales and Shropshire law firm, GHP Legal, which has one of the few dedicated expert mental health teams in the area. She says maintaining support for mental health sufferers in the current time of enforced isolation is ‘particularly essential’.
“We must ensure the feeling of isolation for mental health sufferers is kept to an absolute minimum,” she says. “In our case, our team of lawyers have developed a system for remote rights based legal representation, so by getting the right resources and technology in place we are still able to continue our work and deliver our usual high-quality service.
“We are closely following updates from the Legal Aid Agency, Judiciary and Tribunal Service in relation to video/ telephone hearings and electronic filing of documents. This has been extremely useful and as a result we have been able to maintain contact with clients who have capacity and are able to use technology such as the telephone or video conferencing.
“We know how hard it is for people with mental health issues at the best of times, but right now their lives are being made even more difficult when those they rely on for support are having to work within NHS and government guidelines that are changing almost on a daily basis.
“For client’s detained in hospital under the MHA we are having to follow advice from the hospitals in relation to their policies for visiting, whilst at the same time trying to avoid unnecessary travel under government guidelines.
“We are however still attending appointments, meeting and hearings where allowed, and through adopting a more flexible approach to enquiries and using alternative methods we have been able to maintain communication. As our mental health accredited representatives are classed as key workers, they are now working remotely but are still able to respond to email communications and receive enquiries directed to the GHP Legal mental health team via our website.”