Explains the rights that you have if you are sectioned and detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983.
The UK Government is changing the Mental Health Act.
- tell the approved mental health professional approved mental health professional (AMHP) their concerns, which can lead to you being assessed, or
- apply for you to be sectioned (although generally it is the AMHP who does this)
Your nearest relative should be consulted first if the AMHP wants to section you. They should do this before they complete the process and take you to hospital.
If your nearest relative doesn't think you should be sectioned, they have the right to object to you being sectioned, if you are being sectioned under section 3 of the Mental Health Act. However, if you are being sectioned under section 2, the AMHP does not have to listen to them and can still go ahead with the sectioning.
No – you cannot be forced to tell the AMHP anything about yourself if you do not wish to. But the AMHP has a duty under the Mental Health Act to consult your nearest relative, and they will find out your nearest relative's details if they can and it is practical for them to consult them.
The Mental Health Act has rules for deciding who your nearest relative is, and the AMHP has to follow these rules. You can change who your nearest relative is if you would prefer a different person. To find out how to do this, see our information on the nearest relative.
If you are sectioned and taken to hospital, you have the right to say that you do not want information about your care or treatment to be passed on to your nearest relative. This should be respected in most cases. You can do this even if you have not gone to court to replace your nearest relative.
For example, normally the hospital managers must tell your nearest relative when you are due to be discharged, but if you give instructions that they should not tell your nearest relative this or share other information about you, they should respect your wishes.
Hari has a history of being physically abused as a child. He is still not close to his father and would prefer not to have him involved in his care.
Hari is under section and will be going home in a few days' time. He lives in a flat which he shares with his friends.
Hari says that he absolutely does not want his father to be told this or any other information about him. The hospital has to respect his wishes.
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
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
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
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
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
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.