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Leaving hospital

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.

How can I have my section lifted?

There are a few ways in which this can happen, and you may be able to choose several options at the same time. How many options you have depends on which section of the Mental Health Act you are under.

If you want to have your section lifted, you can:

  • ask your responsible clinician to lift your section and discharge you.
  • ask your Hospital Managers who will agree to have a meeting with you if you ask for one. Your IMHA could help you arrange this.
  • ask for a Mental Health Tribunal at a tribunal hearing. You have the right to ask for this if you are sectioned under certain sections of the Mental Health Act. The Tribunal will look at how you are now and whether you should continue to be sectioned. Legal aid will always be available for a mental health solicitor to represent you at this hearing, if you have a right to the hearing at the time you are applying.
  • ask your nearest relative, who has the right to apply to take you out of hospital.
  • (if you are under a restriction order or restriction direction) ask the Secretary of State for Justice, who must give their permission before your responsible clinician or the managers can discharge you from hospital.

Can I appeal against my section?

High Court

If you want to challenge the fact that you have been sectioned at all, you will need to go to the High Court (not the Mental Health Tribunal), and show:

  • specific reasons why you should not have been sectioned
  • medical evidence for your opinion

Legal aid will not always be available for this kind of challenge.

Disagreeing with your medical diagnosis will not always be enough to successfully challenge the fact you were sectioned in the first place. You will need to get legal advice about the possible success of your case, and your mental health solicitor will be able to tell you about whether you are likely to get legal aid.

NHS Complaints procedure

Alternatively, you could use the NHS Complaints procedure to argue that you should not have been sectioned. This would be free, but you are unlikely to get compensation even if your complaint is successful.

View this legal guide as a PDF (opens new window)

This information was published in July 2020.

This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published. 

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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