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.
Both the English and Welsh Mental Health Act Codes of Practice say that you should be given the opportunity to be involved in the planning, developing and reviewing of your care and to participate in decision-making as far as you are capable of doing so.
If you feel that you are not being involved in your discharge planning you can:
If your discharge is being delayed, this could be for a number of reasons. For example:
- there may be delays in arranging the care you will receive when leaving hospital, or
- there may be a dispute about which local authority will be paying for your care
If the criteria for keeping you in hospital under the Mental Health Act are no longer met but you are still being detained in hospital, this may be unlawful. A mental health solicitor can help you in this situation. See Useful contacts for details on how to contact a solicitor.
If you want to stay in hospital after you are discharged from your section, you should discuss this with your responsible clinician as early as you can before your tribunal or managers' meeting, even if you are not sure you are going to be discharged from section.
Your responsible clinician will decide, and may possibly consult other professionals involved in your care whether there are good medical reasons for you to stay in hospital an informal patient, and whether this will help you to get the care and treatment you need.
You may be:
- asked to attend as an outpatient to receive medical treatment or to monitor your mental health, or
- discharged into some other type of accommodation, such as supported living
These arrangements should be discussed with you before you leave hospital, so you will know what to expect when you leave.
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
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
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
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
Responsible clinician (RC)
Certain decisions, such as applying for someone who is sectioned to go onto a community treatment order (CTO), can only be taken by the responsible clinician.
All responsible clinicians must be approved clinicians. They do not have to be a doctor, but in practice many of them are.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
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
Voluntary patients, also known as 'informal patients', are people who are staying in a psychiatric hospital but are not detained under the Mental Health Act. If you are a voluntary patient, you should be able to come and go from the hospital within reason and discharge yourself if you decide to go home.
See our pages on voluntary patients for more information.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
This information was published in July 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.