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Mental Health Ethics & Law Research Group

Our Objective 

Mental Health & Justice is a Wellcome Trust-funded multi-disciplinary research initiative, which addresses a cluster of public policy challenges that arise where mental health and mental healthcare interact with human rights principles. The fundamental aim of the project is to develop clinical, legal, and policy strategies for jointly satisfying two fundamental imperatives: to respect their agency and autonomy, and to protect people in contexts where they might be vulnerable.  

What is Decision Making Capacity? 

Decision making capacity (DMC) refers to a person’s ability to make a decision for oneself. In England and Wales, this concept is defined and implemented through the Mental Capacity Act (2005). A person is always assumed to be able to make an autonomous decision, unless it is explicitly proven otherwise by way of the criteria set out in law.  

Why Is This Important? 

Lawyers and medical ethicists are increasingly relying upon the concept of decision-making capacity. All of us at times can lose this capacity (e.g. when intoxicated or even in the height of passion) and all of us have spent our childhoods developing it. But how do conditions such as bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, depression, brain injury, and dementia affect our processes of decision-making? In the field of mental health, how can we develop fairer and more accurate ways to assess the loss of decision-making capacity, but also support individuals in accessing and developing such capacities at times when these are under threat.  

Contact us

If you have any questions, please email: 

Administrator, Mental Health Ethics and Law Research Group


Room 3.21 

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) 

16 De Crespigny Park 

London SE5 8AF 

If you are coming to visit, we would recommend using public transport as nearby parking spaces are limited, and our local traffic wardens are very efficient.  

Transport for London has an excellent facility which will allow you to plan your route – enter your starting point and our postcode (SE5 9RJ) to see the best route using public transport. The nearest station to the IoPPN is Denmark Hill, a 5 minute walk away (see Google maps).