Definition of mental disorder
The relevant definitions and exceptions are to be found in s1(2):
“mental disorder” means any disorder or disability of the mind
And by s1(4):
“learning disability” means a state of arrested or incomplete development of the mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning.
The only full exception is that, by s1(3):
Dependence on alcohol or drugs is not considered to be a disorder or disability of the mind ...
In addition, for specified purposes, by s1(2A)
a person with learning disability shall not be considered by reason of that disability to be
- (a) suffering from mental disorder for the purposes of the provisions mentioned in subsection (2B) below; or
- (b) requiring treatment in hospital for mental disorder for the purposes of sections 17E and 50 to 53 below,
unless that disability is associated with abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on his part.
Essentially the ‘specified purposes’ relate to the long-term provisions (s3, CTO, ss35-38, s45A, ss47-48, s51); not short-term sections, or admission for assessment under s2.
The Mental Health Act 2007 made some changes with effect from 3/11/08:
- ‘Mental disorder’ is no longer split by s1 into separate classifications (which were mental illness, psychopathic disorder, mental impairment and severe mental impairment, ‘and any order disorder or disability of the mind’).
- Consequently, the requirement that psychopathic disorder ‘results in abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on the part of the person concerned’ was removed.
- However, the reintroduction of the ‘associated with abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct’ test for ‘learning disability’ reflects the previous position for the old ‘mental impairment’ and ‘severe mental impairment’ categories.
- The exception for ‘promiscuity or other immoral conduct, sexual deviancy…’ has been removed.
- The ‘treatability test’, for psychopathic disorder and mental impairment, was replaced.