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What Is The Mental Capacity Act (2005) And Mental Capacity? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.


What Is The Mental Capacity Act (2005) And Mental Capacity? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

One of the new sections in my brand-new book Clinical Psychology: Second Edition is all about the Mental Capacity Act (2005). This is a critical and fascinating piece of legislation that impacts the work of mental health professionals in the United Kingdom, and I strongly believe that other countries have similar laws in place. In this useful clinical psychology podcast episode, you’ll learn what is mental capacity, what is the Mental Capacity Act (2005) and so many more interesting facts that you’ll need on your clinical psychology journey. If you’re interested in working in mental health settings in the future then this is a critical episode for you.


Today’s psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by Clinical Psychology: Second Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca.


The Mental Capacity Act (2005) And What Is Mental Capacity? (COPYRIGHT 2024 Connor Whiteley)

Note: the legislation we will be discussing in this final chapter of the book is a piece of legislation passed by the United Kingdom, and whilst I am sure other countries have such laws in place. The exact details of these laws will vary country to country. Also, I am not a lawyer or legal expert so this is not any sort of official legal, professional or any other form of advice.


In a past chapter, I gave you a brief overlook of the legislation to ease you into the topic but now I want to deep-dive a lot more because it is so interesting.


And of all the brand-new updated chapters I’m writing for this second edition, I have to admit that I am so excited about the Mental Capacity Act (2005). I’ll admit that I am very unique in this fact because I seriously doubt that legislation makes someone excited, but considering I do like the legal system, laws and the like, it makes sense for me to like this area.


Also, I love the debate that the Mental Capacity Act stirs up because the Act does allow us to do very interesting things to people with mental health conditions, but we do walk a very, very thin ethical line between right and extremely wrong.


For example, let’s use a quick fictional example to kick off the chapter. Let’s say there is a woman called SW who has a long history of paranoid schizophrenia as well as she suffers from several physical health conditions, like diabetes. Then when she’s staying in institutional care her left foot has become gangrenous.


This does require surgery.


Yet SW refuses to have the surgery done and this risks the infection spreading and becoming so bad that the foot needs to be detached from her leg without medical help.


SW’s surgeons want to remove the foot to make sure the infection doesn’t spread, but she refuses it.


The question is should SW be forced to have the surgery?


Personally, I think this is a hard one because I can see both sides of the argument. You could argue that yes she should be forced to have the surgery because otherwise the infection will spread and gangrene can kill you, so her life is at risk.


On the other hand, you could argue that the choice has to be hers because it is her body, so it is her choice.


I would personally go for the first option because I want to save her life, but I do understand the arguments against the forced surgery.


What do you think?


What Is Mental Capacity?

Whenever we talk about mental capacity, we are talking about the fact that generally we all have the right to make our own choices about our behaviour, as long as they’re legal, and this idea of free choice is protected by law.


However, for some people that have a severe mental or physical health condition, they may require help as well as support to empower and protect them. We would say that these people have less mental capacity than healthy people.


Typically, the Mental Capacity Act is applied to people who suffer a stroke, brain injury, dementia or a learning disability.


As I mentioned in a past chapter, we must never ever assume that someone doesn’t have mental capacity just because of the label their condition gives them.


I cannot stress that enough.


Overall, mental capacity is a person’s ability to make a decision and we need legislation around this because people need to be protected and we have to make sure we can empower and protect people who aren’t make decision for themselves.


How Could The Mental Capacity Act Affect People With A Learning/intellectual Disability?

For the rest of this chapter, I wanted to highlight how the Mental Capacity Act does or could impact different people with different neurodevelopmental or mental health conditions. Therefore, when it comes to learning disabilities, according to the NHS website, these disabilities affect the way that a person learns new things throughout the lifespan. As well as to have a learning disability a person has an IQ below 70 and this would negatively impact their daily life.


As a result, people with a learning disability could struggle to understand complex and new information, learn any new skills and not be able to live or cope independently. Also, the NHS website highlights how this is a common set of neurodevelopmental conditions since 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability with 350,000 people having a severe learning disability.


Overall, the Mental Capacity Act might be used on these people to make sure that they are protected and empowered since people with learning disabilities might not be able to make decisions for themselves.


What About Strokes?

Another set of conditions that the Mental Capacity Act is typically used on is stroke survivors because as explained at Stroke.org, a stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is either blocked or bursts so the blood supply to the brain is cut off to various extents.


As a result, when someone has a stroke they often need a long time to undergo rehabilitation before they can recover their independence, just unfortunately a lot of stroke survivors don’t fully recover.


In the UK, about 100,000 people have a stroke each year and there are 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK (www.stroke.org.uk).


This lack of independence and the disruption to the brain that stroke causes can make someone lack the mental capacity to make important decisions.


Mental Capacity Act and Brain Injuries

The last condition I want to zero in on is brain injuries because a person has a traumatic brain injury when they experience a disruption to the normal functioning of their brain. The CDC in the USA  states this can be caused by a bump, blow, jolt or another injury that penetrates the brain itself.


The effects of the brain injury can be wide ranging depending on what area is impacted and the severity is different for everyone too.


Yet brain injuries aren’t just external, they can also be caused by internal factors like a tumour, stroke, haemorrhage or encephalitis (a fancy way of saying inflammation/infection). As well as there are around 350,000 hospital admissions for brain injury every year in the UK (Headway.org.uk).


Why Might A Person Not Have Mental Capacity?

On the whole to wrap up this chapter, there are conditions and medical problems that can cause a person to lack the mental capacity, but it’s important to note that just because someone has one of these conditions, doesn’t mean they lack the mental capacity.


For someone to lack mental capacity, according to Mentalhealth.org.uk, they would need not to be able to understand the information given to them to make a particular decision, retain this information long enough to be able to make the decision, not be able to communicate their decision and they couldn’t weigh up or use the information given to them to make the decision.


So now we understand what Mental Capacity is? How does the Mental Capacity Act help clinical psychologists to reduce distress and improve lives?

 

I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology podcast episode.


If you want to learn more, please check out:


Clinical Psychology: Second Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also available as an AI-narrated audiobook from selected audiobook platforms and library systems. For example, Kobo, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Overdrive, Baker and Taylor and Bibliotheca.



Have a great day.


Clinical Psychology Reference

Whiteley, C. (2024) Clinical Psychology: Second Edition. CGD Publishing. England.


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