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Legal rights

It can be hard to understand what your rights are, or how to assert them - especially when you're unwell. We have information for you on sectioning, discrimination, and your rights in other common situations. These guides are for adults in England and Wales who live with mental health problems.

Sectioning, hospital treatment and discharge



  • What different types of section mean
  • How the assessment works
  • Your rights under the Mental Health Act

Nearest relative


  • What a nearest relative is
  • What powers and rights they have
  • How you can change your nearest relative

Leaving hospital


  • The rights you have to get your section lifted
  • Section 117 aftercare

Community treatment orders (CTOs)


  • What a CTO is
  • How it affects you
  • How you or your family member can change or end it

Police and mental health


  • What happens if you're arrested
  • Your rights at the police station
  • Sections 135 and 136



  • When you have a right to an advocate
  • How advocates help
  • IMHAs and IMCAs

Consent to treatment


  • What consent means
  • When you can be treated without your consent

Informal patients

Explains your rights if you go into hospital by choice - not under section.

Discrimination rights

Disability discrimination


  • When a mental health problem is a disability
  • Different types of discrimination
  • How the Equality Act 2010 protects you

Discrimination at work


  • What laws protect you at work
  • Telling an employer about your mental health
  • What you can do if they discriminate against you

Your rights in everyday life

Health and social care rights


  • Needs and financial assessments
  • Personal budgets and direct payments
  • Carers' rights
  • How to complain about poor care

Housing rights

Explains your rights if:

  • The condition of your home affects your mental health
  • Your mental health problem affects your living situation 
  • You're homeless, sleeping rough or facing eviction

Claiming benefits


  • How to find out what you can claim
  • Tips on filling out benefits forms
  • Where to get support

DBS checks


  • What jobs require DBS checks
  • What will show up on a DBS check
  • How to dispute what's on your record

Insurance cover


  • How mental health problems can affect  getting insurance
  • Details of providers who cover pre-existing conditions

Fitness to drive


  • Your right to drive with a mental health problem
  • What you need to tell DVLA
  • How to appeal if your licence is taken away

Accessing my personal information


  • Your rights to see what's in any records about you
  • How to access your records
  • What to do if something written about you is wrong

Courts and mental health


  • What can happen if you're charged with a crime
  • What happens when you to go court
  • How courts take your mental health into account

Legislation guides

Mental Health Act 1983

A general guide to your rights under the Mental Health Act. Includes FAQs, explanations of legal terms and links to further legal information and support.

Mental Capacity Act 2005

A general guide on how the Mental Capacity Act affects you and how you can plan ahead in case you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself.

Human Rights Act 1998

A general guide to the Human Rights Act, with information about your human rights and what you can do if someone doesn’t respect them.

Legal glossary

Explains legal terms that you may find when dealing with mental health-specific law.

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