for better mental health

Community treatment orders (CTOs)

Explains what a community treatment order is, how it affects you and how you can change or end it.

How can I apply to be discharged?

If you want to be discharged from your CTO, you can apply to the Mental Health Tribunal. The Tribunal cannot look at the conditions of your CTO – it will only look at how you are now and whether you should still be on your CTO or discharged from it. If you want help through this process, you can get support from an independent mental health advocate (IMHA).

When exactly you can apply will depend on what kind of section you are on:

  • If you're on a CTO under section 3, you can apply to be discharged within the first 6 months from the date that the CTO was made.
  • If your CTO is renewed, you can apply to be discharged during each period of renewal (once in the second 6 months and annually after that).
  • If your CTO is revoked, you can apply to be discharged within 6 months starting with the day the CTO was revoked.

If you apply for a Tribunal whilst detained under section 3 and are then put on a CTO, the Tribunal will consider whether you meet the criteria for a CTO instead of the section 3. You will not lose any right to apply for a further hearing.

  • If you're on a CTO after detention under section 37, you can't apply for a Tribunal within the first 6 months of the date of the hospital order being made.
  • If your CTO is renewed, you can apply to be discharged during each period of renewal (once in the second 6 months and annually after that).
  • If your CTO is revoked, you can apply to be discharged within 6 months starting with the day the CTO was revoked. You cannot apply for a Tribunal within the first 6 months of the date of the hospital order being made.
  • If your restriction order has lapsed and you are a section 47 patient (section 37N), who is then placed on a CTO, you can apply to be discharged within the first 6 months.
  • If your CTO is renewed, you can apply to be discharged during each period of renewal (once in the second 6 months and annually after that).
  • If your CTO is revoked, you can apply to be discharged within 6 months starting with the day the CTO was revoked.

Legal aid

You will be able to get legal aid to pay for a solicitor to help you with your appeal, and during the hearing. Your savings or property will not have to be assessed for you to get this help – it is your right to have legal aid for the Tribunal, no matter what money you have coming in or if you own a house or flat.

When will I be referred to the Mental Health Tribunal?

The managers of the hospital responsible for your care must refer you to the Mental Health Tribunal at certain times:

  • If your CTO is revoked and you have to go back to hospital under your original section, you'll be referred to the Tribunal as soon as possible.
  • If you're admitted under a section 2 or 3, and there has not been a Tribunal application or reference, you'll be referred to the Tribunal 6 months from the date you are admitted. (For more information about your rights when you are admitted under a section 2 or 3, see our pages on sectioning.)
  • If it's been 3 years since the last time the Tribunal has considered your case, you'll be referred to the Tribunal 3 years after the last time the Tribunal has considered your case.
  • If you're under 18 years old and it has been 1 year since the last time the Tribunal has considered your case, you'll be referred 1 year after the last time the Tribunal has considered your case.

You will still have a Mental Health Tribunal if you have a change in status. For example, if you have been referred to a Mental Health Tribunal because your CTO is revoked and you are then put under another CTO right before the hearing, the hearing will go ahead.

This information was published in December 2017. We will revise it in 2020.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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