Adolescent Mental Health Care and the Law (Camilla Parker, Legal Action Group, 2020, £50)
Camilla Parker set herself a hugely difficult task in identifying and seeking to make sense of the overlapping, tangled, and frequently incoherent and mutually inconsistent legal frameworks relating to the mental health care of those under 18. It is a task which many have recognised as necessary before, but which has not been done to date, much to the detriment of the interests of the children and young people concerned. All those who work with such clients – importantly, including professionals seeking to discharge their functions in relation to those clients – owe Camilla a debt for taking it on, and doing so well. The result of her work is a tour de force. Not only does it cover everything that you might be going to a book on this subject to find, and does so with sure-footed accuracy and helpful summary route-maps at key points, but as with all the best books, it also includes matters that you would not realise that you should be aware of.
I only have two regrets in relation to the book. The first is that, understandably, given the amount of terrain covered, Camilla has chosen to limit herself to England only – there is the equivalent book to be written, and I would hope soon, in relation to Wales, where the law is evolving in some fascinatingly different ways to that in England. The second is perhaps not a regret about the book per se, but rather that the book expertly shows how badly both the legislators and the courts have approached the specific issues that arise in relation to those under 18 and their mental health needs. I would hope that this book, by allowing a stock-take and highlighting the current problems, not only allows people to navigate the current minefields, but also to encourage them to plot a course towards better ways of thinking about the law in this area.
[Full disclosure, I had sight of this book, and made comments upon it, in draft form, and was also provided with a copy by the publishers. I am always happy to review books in the field of mental capacity and mental health law (broadly defined).]