In response to Baroness Hollins’ report, "My heart breaks - solitary confinement in hospital has no therapeutic benefit for people with a learning disability and autistic people”

Jackie O’Sullivan, Acting CEO at learning disability charity Mencap said-

“Baroness Hollins’ final report shines a vital light on system wide failures that sees solitary confinement used to ‘warehouse’ people with a learning disability and autistic people in mental health hospitals with devastating consequences. She and her panel are clear there is no therapeutic benefit from solitary confinement, rightly demanding its use in relation to children should be outlawed and limited for adults.

" The government must act with urgency and implement the recommendations she has set out to end this barbaric practice, and develop the community based services that are desperately needed to support people in crisis and avoid hospital admission. It is unacceptable that two years after this latest phase of work started, the majority of the 114 people who have had their treatment reviewed remain in solitary confinement, and only 7 have been discharged into the community.” 

"It is bitterly disappointing that as this report is published, the government has already failed to include in the King's Speech vital changes to the Mental Health Act that would have supported this work and addressed the unacceptable treatment of people with a learning disability and autistic people within the mental health system."




Note to editors:  

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, please contact Mencap’s media team on: or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).   

About Mencap:    

There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to educationemployment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want:    

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email           

What is a learning disability?       

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which means that people might need support with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;       

  • Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;        

  • People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.