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If a person agrees to enter hospital voluntarily then the Mental Health Act should not be needed. There are various sections in the act to cover different situations, each of them giving health and social care professionals different powers to admit people to hospital against their will. You can find information on the different sections of the act, and what they mean, on the following websites:.

Preferably you will be seen by these professionals at the same time, but sometimes circumstances mean that they will have to see you at different times. In all cases the two doctors will decide if they agree that you meet the criteria for detention under the Mental Health Act and, if satisfied, complete recommendations to this effect.


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The AMHP must interview you and be satisfied that detention in hospital is, given all the circumstances of your case, the most appropriate and least restrictive way of providing the care and medical treatment you need. Upon completing this application the power is given to the AMHP or someone nominated by the AMHP to take you to the hospital that has agreed to accept you as a detained patient.

When you are at the hospital, you will then be admitted onto a ward and the papers provided by the AMHP gives the hospital the power to detain you against your will. You can find out much more information about how assessments are carried out under the Mental Health Act on the following websites:. The advocate is a person who is independent of the hospital and is employed to speak on your behalf. They can help you discuss your feelings about your care and what support you may need in the future.


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  • Anyone who may have a need for community care services is entitled to a social care assessment when they are discharged from hospital to establish what services they might need. The following websites provide a guide to all the professionals that you may come into contact with within the mental health system:. Skip to main content. The Mental Health Act One or more sections on this page provide access to easy-read information - look out for this logo.

    Main sections of the Mental Health Act. Telling your partner you live with a mental illness. If you have severe mental illness, you might be held under the Mental Health Act.

    The Mental Health Act

    We explain why you may be detained, and what rights you have. The Mental Health Act says when you can be taken to hospital, kept there, and treated against your wishes. This can only happen if you have a mental disorder that puts you, or others, at risk. You should only be detained under the Mental Health Act if there are no other ways to keep you, or others, safe. This page does not cover criminal law sections.

    Mental health – detention

    Click the links below to find our more about each section:. You cannot be detained for drug or alcohol addiction. But you can be detained if alcohol or drugs cause mental health problems. For example, if you have delusions because of using cannabis. Usually, 3 people have to agree that you need to be detained. But this may not be the case if the situation is urgent.

    Key legislation - Mental Health Act 1983

    If all 3 people agree that you need to be detained, the AMHP will apply to a local hospital for a bed. Your nearest relative can also apply for you to be detained, but this is rare. There is more information about your nearest relative below. They are given specialist training to do this. This depends on where you are. The assessment might take place at your home, in a public place, or in hospital. If you are at home, the AMHP should introduce themselves, and the doctors, to you.

    They should explain why they have come to see you. A warrant lets the police enter your home to take you somewhere safe. If your home can be made a safe place, you may be kept there while an assessment is arranged. A safe place might be:. When you are safe, the professionals will decide if you need to be detained.

    They will ask you questions, and think about all of your circumstances. They may ask you:. If you are not already in hospital, the AMHP will arrange for you to go there as soon as possible. In some cases the police will go with you. Staff should tell you which section you are detained under, and what your rights are. If you find it hard to understand, let them know. It is likely that you will be taken to a specialist ward for people with mental health problems.

    In most hospitals, the door to the ward will be locked. Sometimes the hospital might be a long way from home. This is the person who is in charge of your care and treatment. They are usually a psychiatrist, but they can be other professionals too.

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    Taking steps to improve your mental health can reduce the chance of being detained. If it is likely you will be assessed soon, think about the possibility of accepting treatment, and reducing risky behaviour. During the assessment, you may want to explain how things are at home, and what support you already have. If the professionals think you are at risk, talk to them about other options for reducing these risks.

    The professionals should listen to what you have to say, and consider all alternatives to detaining you. These alternatives might be treatment from local mental health services, or you agreeing to go to hospital. If you want a friend or family member with you during a Mental Health Act assessment, let the approved mental health professional AMHP know. Being taken to hospital against your will can be stressful and upsetting and you may feel that you need a lot of support.

    There may be situations when doctors can stop someone visiting you. But they would need to show that this is necessary for safety or security reasons and they should explain these reasons to you. You may want to talk to someone about the way you feel. Ask the ward staff if you can use a phone to call a listening service, like Samaritans telephone: IMHAs help you to tell staff about your concerns, and find out what your rights are. They can also help you to understand your treatment.

    They are independent of the hospital staff. If you think you would find it helpful to speak to an IMHA, ask staff about how to get in touch with one. You may have to ring a number to make an appointment. IMHAs can meet with you in private, if you would like them to.

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    If you are under sections 2 or 3, and you think you should not have been detained, you can appeal to a tribunal. A solicitor can help you do this. This help should be free under legal aid. Civil Legal Advice can tell you more about legal aid, and help you to find a solicitor. Under Section 2 , you can be kept in hospital for up to 28 days. This section gives doctors time to decide:.

    A psychiatrist may offer you treatment. If you refuse treatment, the staff may be able to give it to you without your permission. An approved mental health professional AMHP needs to apply to hospital. Your nearest relative can also do this, but this is rare. An AMHP can only apply if they have seen you in the last 14 days. They also need recommendations from 2 doctors. One of these doctors must have seen you in the last 14 days.

    And the doctors must not have seen you more than 5 days apart.

    Risk assessment and admission under the MHA (1983 as Amended in 2007)

    Up to 28 days.