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:
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.See our full list of legal terms.
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.See our full list of legal terms.
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.See our full list 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.See our full list of legal terms.
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.See our full list of legal terms.
In Wales, voluntary patients can also have an IMHA.See our full list of legal terms.
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.See our full list of legal terms.
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.See our full list of legal terms.
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:
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.See our full list of legal terms.
This information was published in July 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
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