Book review: Advising Clients with Mental Health Conditions

Advising Clients with Mental Health Conditions is a first edition legal handbook published by the Law Society.  Its author, David Pickup, is the senior partner at Pickup and Scott solicitors and specialises in mental health law.  The book is intended to assist solicitors advising clients living with mental health conditions, and their carers and covers the following:

  • Hospital admissions, discharge and client visits
  • Access to services, including complaints, for clients and their carers
  • Diverse legal needs, e.g. criminal, wills and probate trusts and gifts, family, immigration, housing, employment and legal aid
  • Mental capacity law and the Mental Health Act 1983
  • Interaction between human rights law and mental health
  • Differences in mental health law and practice in Wales

Each chapter is broken down into clear sections and is easily accessible.  The content is not substantive and could not be used as a standalone resource.  It provides guidance on a very broad range of issues, however, and would be a useful starting point for more detailed research.  There are many useful titbits and advice which could add value to the client.  The author’s area of expertise is the Mental Health Act and this is evident from the content as this is the area most extensively covered. 

The book provides a brief explanation of the more common mental health conditions a solicitor may expect to encounter; a more detailed explanation and perhaps signposting to other information, resources or medical/charitable organisations would have been helpful.  To understand some of the common traits and how these may impact on a client’s ability to communicate and provide instructions would have provided a fuller picture to the practitioner. 

Reference to case law, statute and guidance is provided (which is easily referenced and identifiable) and provides the regulatory basis for compliance by practitioners.  Although this is a changing area of law, and a book so broad will be more affected by changes, having a clear legal framework provides a starting point even if the law has subsequently changed.

(Author: Holly Chantler, Lifetime Lawyers director)