Mental Health and Mental Disability Law

The past year has been a lively one for those interested in mental health and mental capacity law.  The Wessely Committee, appointed to review the Mental Health Act 1983 in England and Wales, reports in December 2018, and a new bill to replace the DOLS is working its way through Parliament. In Northern Ireland, the move towards a unified mental health and mental capacity act continues to inch forward.  Amendments to the Scottish Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act came into effect in the summer of 2017, and we can therefore start to see how they are working.  At the international level, it is increasingly clear that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is changing what is expected of mental health and mental capacity law.

While these legal developments provide a particularly apt occasion for the stream, papers from all areas of the law relating to mental health, mental capacity and mental disability are welcome, including:

  • Civil, criminal or informal mechanisms of control, in hospital or in the community
  • Supported decision-making and supported accommodation
  • The law relating to disability and welfare benefits, and issues relating to care and programmes in the community;
  • Issues relating to discrimination on the basis of mental disability (be it mental health issues, psychosocial disabilities, or learning disabilities)
  • International law relating to people with mental disabilities;
  • The role of administration or care-givers in the provision of services;
  • The role or experience of service users in mental health care, and research into mental health care.

There is no restriction on methodology:  papers may be empirical, policy-centred, historical, analytic, traditional legal, or theoretical, in approach.

The SLSA is an interdisciplinary organization.  Papers are welcome from any academic background, and from people at any stage of their career. Proposals from people with lived experience of mental distress are welcome.

The stream co-ordinators are happy to consider joint sessions with other streams in the conference where appropriate.

Please feel free to circulate this call for papers to interested scholars and other interested persons working in any discipline related to law and mental disability.


Peter Bartlett ( and Lucy Series (