The principal aim of the project is to develop clinical, legal, and public policy strategies for jointly satisfying two fundamental imperatives: the imperative to protect people in contexts where they can be vulnerable, and the imperative to respect their agency and autonomy.
The Mental Health and Justice initiative takes place at a time of active reform in the area of mental health and mental capacity legislation, across the UK and around the world. This five-year project will support the reform agenda by undertaking research pertaining to two concepts that have been central to the reform movement: the concept of support in decision-making and the concept of decision-making ability.
The collaboration involves clinical experts, lawyers, philosophers, neuro-scientists, social scientists and service-users in a research network that will be delivering practical guidelines, enhancing policy engagement, and advancing interdisciplinary working and innovation in service-user involvement in research and public engagement.
Enabling Legal Capacity Through Decision-Making Support. Led by Dr Jill Craigie, this project will critically examine decision-making support as a strategy for jointly satisfying the two fundamental imperatives of protection and respect. It has a particular focus on intellectual disability and autism.
Support and Independence in the Community. Dr Hanna Kienzler leads this project using multi-site ethnography to explore the diverse meaning of (and barriers to) independence, community and support for persons with mental problems across socio-cultural contexts in Ghana, the occupied Palestinian territory, and England.
Supporting Advance Directives. Supported decision-making must be tailored to persons with diverse mental disorders in diverse socio-cultural contexts. This work, led by Dr Gareth Owen and Dr Tania Gergel, will focus on Bipolar Affective Disorder and the real-life implementation of advance directives as persons with Bipolar strive to provide guidance for their own treatment.
Insight. Professor Wayne Martin leads a project considering the role of ‘insight’ in mental health care, a key concept when it comes to treatment decisions. How can a person who lacks awareness that they are unwell competently assess treatment options for an illness they do not recognise, and what legal guidelines should frame decisions on coercive treatments?
Decision-making and Metacognition. This project will link decision-making ability to the related concept of metacognition and will use cognitive neuroscience methods to inform questions around decision-making ability and support. This research is led by Professor Anthony David.
Contested Assessment will consider the legal and clinical evidence that makes the assessment of decision-making capacity in a proportion of cases contested or hard. It aims to advance satisfactory resolutions and educational interventions. This research is led by Dr Gareth Owen and barrister/academic Alex Ruck Keene.