Mental Health Act

A guide to the Mental Health Act, with information about your rights and what you can do to get support.

Your stories

Stockport MindFest

Rachel, Mind Infoline advisor
Posted on 12/12/2013

Sharing my story with the Mind Infoline

Katie blogs about why she agreed to meet Mind's Infoline team, and shares her experiences of being sectioned.

Katie Siobhan
Posted on 13/12/2012

Mind's new text service

Simon blogs about the Mind Infoline's new text service and how he was involved in setting it up.

Posted on 01/05/2014

When we write about the Mental Health Act 1983 in this guide, numbers of the relevant sections or parts of the Act are shown in bold. The final section explains legal and professional terms that you will come across in this information. More detailed legal briefings on nearest relative and supervised community treatment are also available.

The vast majority of people receiving treatment in psychiatric wards are in hospital on an informal basis and have usually agreed to come into hospital – they are called informal patients or voluntary patients.

About a quarter of people, however, are in hospital without their agreement. This is because they have been ‘sectioned’ (or ‘detained’) under the Mental Health Act 1983. They are called formal patients. If you are in hospital as a formal patient you will not be free to leave and will lose some other important rights available to informal patients. The majority of this information focuses on formal patients.

Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z


Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems.

> View courses

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today