If your section is lifted, and you stay in hospital as a voluntary patient, your rights to leave the ward will change: see our information voluntary patients.
Can I refuse treatment?
If you are sectioned under sections 2, 3, 37 and certain other sections of the Mental Health Act, and your treatment is for your mental health problem and prescribed by your responsible clinician, legally it may be given to you without your consent. This may still happen even if you physically resist being given the treatment.
If you are sectioned under sections 4, 5, 35, 135 and 136, or you are under Mental Health Act guardianship or conditional discharge, you have the right to refuse treatment for your mental health problem, but you may be given treatment in an emergency.
See our information on consent to treatment to find out more.
Can I challenge my section?
It may not be possible to challenge the health professionals' opinion during the time that you are being sectioned.
But once you have been sectioned and are in hospital, there are several ways of getting discharged:
- Ask your responsible clinician to discharge you.
- Ask your hospital managers to consider discharging you.
- Ask your nearest relative to discharge you.
- Apply to the Mental Health Tribunal to be discharged.
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.
For more information see our pages on leaving hospital.
Can I make a complaint about how I’ve been treated in hospital?
Yes, your independent mental health advocate can help you to make a complaint. You can complain to the hospital or their regulator which is the Care Quality Commission (in England) or the Healthcare Inspectorate (in Wales).
For more information see our pages on complaining about health and social care.
What are my rights after I leave hospital?
When you are no longer under a section and leave hospital, you have the following rights:
- The right to vote, as long as you are well enough to decide between candidates, and you are registered on your local council’s electoral register at your home address or another address.
- The right to travel abroad. You have the right to travel out of the UK, but some countries have restrictions on accepting people with a history of mental health problems. This is because the Equality Act, which protects you from discrimination in the UK, does not apply abroad.
Each country will have different rules on this. So you will have to check with the embassy of the country you are planning to visit whether you will have trouble getting a visa and whether they are likely to ask for information about your mental health history.
- The right to drive. You have the right to drive, but if you are diagnosed with certain severe mental health conditions and taking certain types of medication, your driving licence may be temporarily suspended. For more information, visit the DVLA website and see our information on fitness to drive.
Aftercare services or care plans
- You should be told before you leave hospital whether you will have the right to aftercare services after you leave hospital, and whether these are likely to be free.
- Or you will have a care plan which you should be invited to discuss, and you will have the right to the services on the care plan, but you may be means tested and asked to contribute something towards your services: see our information on community care and aftercare.
This information was published in September 2017. We will revise it in 2019.