Explains the rights that you have if you are sectioned and detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983.
You have the right to consult a solicitor or legal adviser about your rights before you are sectioned, but:
An independent mental health advocate (IMHA) may be available to help you express your views and support you, if that is what you want.
If you are at home and lock your door, normally it would be against the law for anyone to enter without your agreement or break in. But the health professionals who want to assess you can use the law to enter your home.
They can only enter your home if they have reason to think that:
You can then be taken to a hospital or other place of safety to be assessed. Or you could potentially be assessed at home. You should not be kept for assessment for longer than 24 hours, but you may then be sectioned and kept in hospital for longer.
The Mental Health Act 1983 gives the AMHP and the other health professionals the right to take you to hospital. If you refuse to go with them, they have the right to use reasonable force to take you to hospital or they may call the police for assistance.
As long as the health professionals follow the right steps as set out in the Mental Health Act, and they fill in the section papers correctly, your sectioning will be lawful and you will have to go to hospital to be assessed and possibly treated.
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.
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.
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 is a locally agreed place where the police may take you to be assessed. It's usually a hospital but can be your home. A police station should only be used in an emergency.See our full list of legal terms.
This means that you are vulnerable because of your mental health problem, and you need a level of care or control that you are not receiving at the time of the warrant to keep you safe and healthy.See our full list of legal terms.
In Wales, voluntary patients can also have an IMHA.See our full list 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.