If I am detained in hospital, who can tell me my rights?
The Mental Health Act managers (the managers) must ensure every effort is made to inform you of your rights. Information may be given to you by your responsible clinician, nursing or other staff such as the Mental Health Act administrator or your social worker. These people should give you written information about the Mental Health Act and help you answer questions you might have about your detention.
For independent advice, you can consult an advice centre or advocate (including an independent mental health advocate) if there is a local service or, in any case, a solicitor (see Useful contacts).
If I want to leave, how can I apply to be discharged from hospital?
You have several rights, which you can assert separately or all at once. How many options you have depends on the section you are detained under.
You can ask your responsible clinician or the managers to discharge you. In addition to this, most detained patients are entitled to apply to the Mental Health Tribunal (the tribunal). Your nearest relative also has certain rights under the Mental Health Act, and these are dealt with further on.
If you are subject to a ‘restriction order’, the permission of the Secretary of State for Justice must be obtained before your responsible clinician or the managers can discharge you. Similarly, if you are subject to a ‘restriction direction’ the tribunal can only recommend to the Secretary of State for Justice that you be discharged. Where the court has remanded you to hospital, only the court has the power to discharge you.
Can I appeal against the decision to detain me?
An appeal would mean that you were arguing that the detention should never have happened in the first place. To do this, you would have to prove the detention was unlawful. If you disagree with being detained, or an error has been made, you will need the advice of a solicitor as quickly as possible. If the detention is lawful, there are still ways in which you can have the need for the detention reviewed. This makes sure that you are not detained longer than is necessary.