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How to help someone who's been sectioned

Tuesday, 07 March 2017 Mind Info team

Every month we are going to ask our Youtube viewers what they want to know about mental health. This month, Harriet from our Information team answers a question about helping someone who has been detained under the Mental Health Act.


If your family member has been sectioned, it’s natural to feel anxious and confused, like you don’t know what to do.

People have told us they can feel really powerless in this situation. You want to be with your loved one, when they are so unwell and them being in hospital, stops them from doing that. 

So first of all, lets just explain what being sectioned is. 

If your family member has been sectioned, this means that they are being kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983. People get sectioned if their own health or safety is at risk, or to protect other people.

There are different types of sections, each with different rules. How long they have to stay in hospital depends on which section they are kept in hospital under.

It’s important to know that, as a family member, you may have legal rights to get involved if you are what is known as the ‘nearest relative’. The nearest relative is different from ‘next of kin’.

We have some info to help you figure out if you're the nearest relative here. 

If you’re the nearest relative, you have the right to get information about the section, including reasons why your family member has been sectioned.

And if you have questions about the section, you could ask to speak to the ward manager or the care co-ordinator.

Even if you're not someone's nearest relative, there are lots of other things you can do. You'll find information here on how friends and family can help for every mental health diagnosis

But you can also help by letting your family member know that they have rights to help themselves. 

So for example, they can:

  • Get help and support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate (sometimes call d an IMHA – this is someone who can help them understand the effects of their sectioning, or complain about anything that has happened to them while in hospital
  • Get leaflets with information when they arrive on the ward.
  • Appeal against their section to the Mental Health Tribunal.
  • Complain about how they’ve been treated to the Care Quality Commission or, if they are in Wales, to the Healthcare Inspectorate.
  • Request to speak to a solicitor.

For more information about any of these rights you can see our information on sectioning, or you can call our legal information line.

If someone you care about has been sectioned, it’s natural to spend a lot of your time focusing on them. But don’t forget that it’s important to look after your own mental wellbeing, too.

Try to make sure you’re eating and sleeping well, and that you have someone you can share your feelings with, and put some time aside just for yourself.

Taking positive steps to look after your own wellbeing is really important. After all, you wont be able to look after anyone if you're not well yourself. 

Take a look at our info on coping as carer for more info on keeping well, and on the support you can get. 



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