What are the Different Types of Mental Health Legislation?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2020
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In the past few decades, the field of mental health has grown by leaps and bounds. Many people now believe that the importance of mental health is on par with that of physical health. There is, however, often debate over the importance of mental health care and the responsibilities that health insurance companies have to cover this kind of care. With the development of the mental health field has come appropriate legislation. Many of the debates regarding mental health care are represented by mental health legislation and the overturning or amending of such legislation.

The key topics that are covered in mental health care legislation are the treatment of patients who require mental health care and the ways in which therapists, doctors, hospitals, the families of patients, and insurance companies are responsible for patients. The word responsible is key here. Mental health legislation is often enacted with the intention to clarify who is responsible for the people who require mental health care and the costs incurred with providing mental health care

Two examples of mental health legislation are the Mental Health Parity Act and the Mental Health Act of 1983. While these examples are limited to legislation that has passed in the United States and the United Kingdom, there are other countries that have passed mental health legislation as well. Canada and Australia, for examples, have also passed mental health legislation.


In 1996, the United States signed into legislation the Mental Health Parity Act, which is often abbreviated to MHPA. This act stipulates that health insurance issuers and group health plans must not put dollar limits on mental health care that are lower than the limits for medical and surgical treatments and procedures. In October, 2008, the Mental Health Parity Act was, for the most part, superseded by legislation that was attached to the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The Mental Health Act of 1983 was an act of the United Kingdom’s Parliament that applied to people living in England and Wales. This act set rules and regulations for the care and treatment of people with mental disorders. The act also set rules about what is to be done about the property and personal affairs of a person being treated as an in-patient for a mental health disorder. It also includes legislation regarding the detainment of people suffering from mental health disorders against their will.


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