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.
If you have been sectioned, or are under a community treatment order (CTO), the Mental Health Act says that you have the right to be given information on the ways in which your section or CTO can end and you can leave hospital. This may also be called being 'discharged' from your section. Your rights will be different if you are in hospital as a voluntary or informal patient.
When you arrive in hospital:
- your rights should be explained to you by a member of staff
- you should receive written information explaining your rights and other important information on how the Mental Health Act affects you
- your nearest relative and carer, if you have one, should also receive this information
The hospital managers have a duty under the Mental Health Act to make sure that this happens, and that you understand that help is available from an independent mental health advocate (IMHA). This information should be readily available to you throughout your stay in hospital.
You may be given this information by your:
You can ask a member of staff on your ward to arrange for you to have it, or ask to see an IMHA. You have the right to see an IMHA if you are sectioned under certain sections of the Mental Health Act. They or another member of staff should be able to answer any questions you have about your section or getting it lifted, or about leaving hospital.
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
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
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
The nearest relative is a family member who has certain responsibilities and powers if you are detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act. These include the right to information and to discharge in some situations.
The law sets out a list to decide who will be your nearest relative. This can sometimes be changed.
See our pages on the nearest relative for more information.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
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
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
Mental Health Act Administrator
The Mental Health Act Administrator works in the hospital and deals with collecting and keeping the section or community treatment order (CTO) papers safe. They make sure that procedures are followed – like making sure you are given the right information and arranging hearings.Visit our full listing of Legal Terms
Approved mental health professional (AMHP)
AMHPs are mental health professionals who have been approved by a local social services authority to carry out duties under the Mental Health Act. They are responsible for coordinating your assessment and admission to hospital if you are sectioned.
They may be:
- social workers
- occupational therapists
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.
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