Explains the rights you have to get your section lifted if you are being detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act, and your rights to care and support after leaving hospital.
The UK Government is changing the Mental Health Act.
If you have been sectioned, then it is very likely that your care planning will be carried out under one of these systems:
The Care Programme Approach (CPA) is for people in England with severe or complex mental health problems and those who may need services from a number of agencies to support them.
The CPA guidance says that if you are currently or have recently been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, then you should be supported under the CPA.
What support should I get under the CPA?
The CPA guidance says you should have:
- support from a CPA care coordinator
- a full assessment of your needs, taking account of all the services who will be giving you support
- a written care plan, which includes plans for risks you may face and what should happen if you are in crisis
- ongoing review of your care, including a full review of all the support you are receiving from all services at least once a year
- consideration of ongoing need for CPA support
- consideration of your need for support from an advocate
- support for your carers. This means your carers should be identified, and told of any rights they may have to have their needs assessed. This is to find out if your carer needs help to give you care.
What will care planning cover?
The range of issues which your care planning will cover will depend on your condition and your exact needs. It will often include considering:
- what medical treatment you need both for your mental and physical health, including medication
- what risks there are to your own wellbeing and safety and to the safety of others
- what support should be provided to you if you find yourself in crisis
- any needs you may have as a result of problems with alcohol or drugs
- your personal circumstances including family and carers
- your financial circumstances
- your housing needs
- your employment, education and training needs
The CPA guidance is clear that the assessment and planning of your care should aim to meet your particular needs and should not just focus on what services can be offered.
Any discharge plans should be agreed with you and should involve your family and carer if this is what you want. The care plan should also not simply focus on your difficulties and needs but also on your strengths and what you hope to achieve with the support of services.
How is care planning carried out?
As soon as you are admitted to hospital, the people responsible for your healthcare should start assessing your needs and planning your discharge. This is stated in the English Mental Health Act Code of Practice and guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Before you leave hospital, there will be a discharge meeting where people involved in your care will develop a discharge care plan for you addressing your needs.
The care plan should:
- be discussed, planned and agreed with you
- support effective working between the various people who will be involved in your care after you are discharged (such as your social worker, your Community Mental Health Team and your GP)
- include assessments of risks you may face and plans for how to deal with problems you may have after your discharge and give you information about how to contact people who can help you. NICE guidance says that if you are considered to be at risk of suicide, arrangements should be made to follow-up with you within 48 hours of you leaving hospital.
You should be given at least 48 hours' notice of the date for your discharge from hospital and your care arrangement should be discussed with any family or carers who will be involved in your care.
A Care and Treatment Plan (CTP) is a written plan in Welsh or English covering what you want to achieve in certain areas of your life and what mental health services will help to do this.
You have a legal right to a CTP if you receive secondary health services in Wales. Secondary health services might be care you receive from a psychiatrist, a community psychiatric nurse, a social worker or a member of the Community Mental Health Team.
What does a CTP cover?
Your CTP will cover eight areas:
- finance and money
- personal care and physical wellbeing
- education and training
- work and occupation
- parenting or caring relationships
- social, cultural or spiritual
- medical and other forms of treatment including psychological interventions
The CTP will have a section setting out the outcomes you want to achieve in these areas. At least one of these outcomes has to be set out, but generally your care planning should try to cover outcomes you want to achieve in more than one of those areas.
The CTP will also have a section which sets out:
- the services which will be provided to you to help you achieve those outcomes
- the date when those services will be provided
- who is responsible for providing them
Who prepares the CTP?
Your care coordinator will be responsible for working with you, other people involved in your healthcare and your family and carer (if you want to involve them) to agree to the outcomes in the CTP.
When you access secondary services, your local health board or local authority should appoint a care coordinator as soon as reasonably practicable. This might be:
- a psychiatrist
- a psychiatric nurse
- a social worker, or
- another healthcare professional
Do I get a CTP if I am detained in hospital?
If you already have a CTP before you are detained in hospital, it will be reviewed within 72 hours of your admission and updated. If you do not have a CTP before you are detained, a care coordinator will be appointed and a CTP will be prepared.
What happens when I am preparing to leave hospital?
- Assessment and planning. While you are in hospital, the people responsible for your healthcare should start assessing your needs and planning your discharge.
- Care services. The local health board of the hospital you are in and the local authority where you usually live should take steps to identify in good time before your discharge appropriate care services to support you when you leave hospital.
- Consultation. They should consult you, your family and carer (if that is what you wish), your care coordinator and other healthcare professionals involved in your care.
- If hospital managers or a Mental Health Tribunal are considering your discharge, they will expect your healthcare professionals to provide information about what care arrangements have been made for you if you are discharged.
- Discharge meeting. Before you leave hospital, there will be a discharge meeting where people involved in your care will develop a discharge care plan for you addressing your needs. You (with support from your family and/or IMHA if you wish), your care coordinator and other professionals involved in your care should be included in the process, with the arrangements recorded in your CTP.
- Crisis plan. Your CTP should also include a crisis plan setting out what you would like to happen if you become unwell again after you have left hospital. NICE guidance says that if you are considered to be at risk of suicide, arrangements should be made to follow up with you within 48 hours of you leaving hospital.
You are entitled to free aftercare services if you have been:
- sectioned under sections 3, 37, 45A, 47 or 48 (see our information on sectioning to find out more about what these different sections mean)
- placed on a CTO, or
- placed on a conditional discharge
This is known as section 117 aftercare.
If you are in England, this will most likely be planned under the CPA and set out in your care plan. If you are in Wales, this will be assessed and planned under the CTP.
Being 'sectioned' means that you are kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act. There are different types of sections, each with different rules to keep you in hospital. The length of time that you can be kept in hospital depends on which section you are detained under.
See our pages on sectioning for more information.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA)
This is a law that applies to England and Wales which allows people to be detained in hospital (sectioned) if they have a mental health disorder and need treatment. You can only be kept in hospital if certain conditions are met.
See our pages on the Mental Health Act for more information.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
An advocate is a person who can both listen to you and speak for you in times of need. Having an advocate can be helpful in situations where you are finding it difficult to make your views known, or to make people listen to them and take them into account.
See our pages on advocacy for more information.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
Mental Health Act Code of Practice
This tells health professionals how they should follow the Mental Health Act. It is not law, so it cannot be enforced by going to court, but health professionals should follow it unless there is a good reason not to.
The Code covers some areas not specifically mentioned in the Mental Health Act, such as visiting rights and the use of seclusion.
If a health professional doesn’t follow the Code, you can make a complaint.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
Hospital managers (also known as Mental Health Act managers)
Hospital managers are an independent team of people in a hospital who make sure that the requirements of the Mental Health Act are properly applied. They have certain important responsibilities and can make decisions related to your detention.
In practice, most of the day-to-day decisions are taken by individuals authorised by the hospital managers to do so. This can include hospital staff. Decisions about discharge are normally delegated to a team of people who are independent of the hospital. You can apply to them to be discharged from your section and they will decide whether or not to discharge you.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
Mental Health Tribunal (MHT)
This is a special court that deals with cases relating to the Mental Health Act 1983. The Tribunal decides whether you can be discharged from your section. It can sometimes make recommendations about matters such as hospital leave, transfer to another hospital, guardianship and community treatment orders (CTOs).
The court is made of a panel, which normally includes:
- a legally qualified chairperson
- a ‘lay member’ who has appropriate experience and qualifications in the area of mental health
- an independent psychiatrist, who will speak to you and examine you before the tribunal hearing in certain circumstances, and when you request to see them
Where you see a reference to the Mental Health Tribunal in this guide, it means:
- First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health), if you live in England, or
- Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales, if you live in Wales.
Independent mental health advocate (IMHA)
- You have a right to an IMHA if you are:
detained in hospital under a section of the Mental Health Act, but not if you are under sections 4, 5, 135 and 136
- under Mental Health Act guardianship, conditional discharge and community treatment orders (CTOs)
- discussing having certain treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
In Wales, voluntary patients can also have an IMHA.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
Community treatment order (CTO)
If you have been sectioned and treated in hospital under certain sections, your responsible clinician can put you on a CTO. This means that you can be discharged from the section and leave hospital, but you might have to meet certain conditions such as living in a certain place, or going somewhere for medical treatment. Sometimes, if you don't follow the conditions or you become unwell, you can be returned to hospital.
See our pages on CTOs for more information.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
This is where you are discharged from hospital but will have to follow some conditions, such as living at a particular place or meeting healthcare professionals. If you break these conditions, you can be recalled to hospital.
You can only be put under a conditional discharge if you have been:
- sectioned by a court under certain sections of the Mental Health Act and have been charged with a crime and you are a restricted patient under a restriction order, or
- transferred to hospital from prison under the Mental Health Act and you are a restricted patient under a restriction direction.
This information was published in July 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
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