When people go to be treated in a hospital or mental health facility, they have usually agreed or volunteered to be there by themselves. This may be known as a voluntary patient.
However, there are some cases when a person can be treated without their agreement. This is known as being detained or sectioned under the Mental Health Act (1983).
In this article, we’ll look at what the Mental Health Act is, and some of the different sections of it.
What is the Mental Health Act?
The Mental Health Act (1983) is the main set of laws and guidelines that surround the assessment and treatment of people with a mental health disorder, as well as their rights.
During a severe mental health crisis, a person suffering from these issues can be detained (also known as sectioned).
If someone is detained under the Mental Health Act, it means they need urgent treatment for a mental health disorder and are deemed to be a risk of harm to themselves or others.
Under the Section 2 Mental Health Act, medical professionals can decide to detain a person in hospital if they are suffering from a mental disorder at a degree to warrant detention for assessment or assessment followed by treatment. This will be for a limited period of up to 28 days and cannot be renewed unless the person is placed onto section 3 for treatment, if the criteria for that section is met.
The person has the right to appeal against the decision to the Mental Health Tribunal, this must be done within the first 14 days of the section’s beginning. Eligibility to appeal to the Mental Health Tribunal depends what section of the Mental Health Act the person is detained under.
The person can also appeal to the Hospital Managers Hearings at any time, the Hospital Managers are completely independent from the hospital and they have the power to discharge certain patients at their discretion if they agree on the evidence presented.
A person under section can also be discharged by their Responsible Clinician (RC) the approved clinician that has overall responsibility for a patient in regard to the Mental Health Act. They can also be discharged at the request of their nearest relative. This will be either a husband, wife (unless separated) or a parent, sibling, etc., and if two people fall under the category of nearest relative, then the eldest will be given the title.
How You Can Get Help and Advice
A solicitor can talk you through what happens next and what steps to take, should you or a close member of your family be detained under the Mental Health Act. They also may be able to help appeal the decision if you feel it was not an accurate assessment.
If you live in the Suffolk area, search solicitors Ipswich online to find a solicitor’s office that covers mental health, as well as a variety of other legal issues. A legal office that specialises in a wider range of areas is recommended as they can refer you to additional experts during the case, if needed.
Under section 3, the person can be detained for up to 6 months, which can then be renewed for a further 6 months, this will extend to yearly after the first year. Again, the person can appeal or be discharged via the methods explained for section 2.
Section 3 means a person has been detained for treatment as they are deemed a safety risk to themselves or others. Under section 3, a person can be given treatment for a mental disorder without their consent, however medication can only be given after 3 months have passed with the person’s consent or a second opinion from another doctor.
If a person convicted of an offence that could be punishable with a prison sentence but are deemed by courts as suffering from a mental health disorder to a degree that they need treatment, they will be given a hospital order under Section 37.
Whether you or a family member struggle with a mental health disorder, and being detained is a worry or possibility, it is always worth seeking advice from experts like legal professionals.