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 your section is coming to an end because it is reaching its maximum time limit, which will depend on which section you are under, your responsible clinician must decide whether your section should be renewed. Renewal is normally possible only with some sections, such as section 3 or 37.
They must examine you in the last two months of your section and decide whether the conditions for renewing your section are met and whether you should be discharged. They should also discuss their decision with you.
Then they must do the following:
If your section is not renewed, then when it reaches its maximum time limit, you should be:
If you think you are no longer sectioned, and are not discharged or free to go, you should
If you are not sectioned again, the hospital managers should make sure that a review is held within one month to:
Your responsible clinician should make a decision about your discharge, that considers the least restrictive option and the maximum independence available to you. They should think about whether you should be:
If your CTO period is about to come to an end, your responsible clinician must examine you in the last two months before it reaches its maximum time limit and decide whether to discharge you or extend your CTO.
Only your responsible clinician can extend your CTO. In making this decision they should take the following steps:
The responsible clinician will do this by making an order in writing. This lets the hospital authorities know that you are no longer under section, and that you should be allowed to leave hospital, and supported to do this.
The law says that there are slightly different reasons for keeping you sectioned under a section 2 or section 3. But generally speaking, your responsible clinician must reach a decision about your mental health, taking into consideration whether:
Or, if your section has reached the maximum time allowed by the law, then the law says you should:
Your responsible clinician can also discharge you for other reasons, and at any time. If the conditions for keeping you under your section or your CTO are no longer being met, they must discharge you, and they should not wait until your section or CTO has ended before discharging you.
Also, if the second professional consulted by the responsible clinician decides not to agree to your section being renewed or the AMHP decides not to agree to your CTO being extended, this does not mean your section or CTO are automatically ended. However your responsible clinician would have stronger reasons to think about discharging you.
The factors the responsible clinician will look at will be similar to when you are being discharged from section. But instead of looking at whether you are well enough to leave hospital or will be able to receive the right treatment in the community, they will look at whether they still need the power to recall you to hospital, and possibly have you brought there for treatment.
To find out more, see our information on CTOs.
If your section has reached its time limit, and it has not been renewed or replaced by another section, you should be free to go. If you think you should have been discharged but this has not happened, you should let the hospital managers know. If you need help to do this, an IMHA should be able to help you.
You will need to get permission from your responsible clinician. This is covered under section 17 of the Mental Health Act.
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.
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.
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.
This is where someone called a 'guardian' is appointed instead of being sectioned and kept in hospital. Your guardian could be a person or a local authority.
You can only be placed under guardianship if it's necessary for your welfare or to protect other people. Your guardian has the power to make certain decisions about you and to make conditions that you will be asked to keep to, such as where you live.
Guardianship lasts for up to six months and can be renewed: initially for a further six months, and then for a year at a time. You can appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal once in each of these periods.See our full list of legal terms.
A care coordinator is the main point of contact and support if you need ongoing mental health care. They keep in close contact with you while you receive mental health care and monitor how that care is delivered – particularly when you’re outside of hospital. They are also responsible for carrying out an assessment to work out your health and social care needs under the care programme approach (CPA).
A care coordinator could be any mental health professional, for example:
This is decided according to what is most appropriate for your situation.
A care coordinator usually works as part of the community mental health team.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.
In Wales, voluntary patients can also have an IMHA.See our full list of legal terms.
CCGs are groups of GP practices and other healthcare professionals and bodies that are responsible for commissioning most health and care services for patients. They have replaced Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England.See our full list of legal terms.
The Care Programme Approach (CPA) is a way that secondary mental health services are assessed, planned, coordinated and reviewed for someone that lives in England (see: secondary care).
Secondary mental health services include the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT), Assertive Outreach Team and Early Intervention Team.
You should get:
See our pages on leaving hospital for more information.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:
This means medical treatment for your mental health problem that is:
This information was published in August 2018. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.