Here is a clear guide for mental health staff, says Neil Brimblecombe

The Maze has been a useful guide to the practical applications of mental health law since it was published in 1987, with three subsequent reprints. This new edition is the first for 11 years and has been completely revised to reflect the amended Mental Health Act, which was finally passed in 2007.

The title is more apt than ever, with additional complications arising from new “legal interfaces” with the Mental Capacity Act, the Human Rights Act, and numerous changes, large and small, in the details of the act itself.

The book is aimed at clinical staff working in mental health or acute hospital settings, law students and other staff from legal and social care professions. The language throughout is relatively accessible and, although not explicitly targeted at people who use services and their carers, its nature is such that it would also be a useful reference for these groups. New additions, such as the Mental Capacity Act, Deprivation of Liberty and Common Law are concise and clinically focused. No pocket handbook, it would be a valuable resource in the office of any mental health team.

The risk of books as accessible as The Maze is that they may be used without due reference to more detailed information, like the Mental Health Act code of practice. This issue is recognised in the preface, and with that caveat, The Maze is recommended.

Dr Neil Brimblecombe is director of quality and professional practice at South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust.


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