Mental Health Act

The Mental Health Act helps ensure people with mental health problems get the right treatment and care they need for their own health and safety or for the protection of others.

What is The Mental Health Act?

The Mental Health Act (1983) is the law which ensures people with mental health needs receive appropriate treatment.  It means that if you have to be formally detained and treated in hospital to receive necessary care and support, your rights will be protected.

If your doctor thinks that it is in your best interests to stay in hospital, you may be assessed for sectioning under the Mental Health Act.  You will be informed that a Mental Health Act assessment is taking place and introduced to the relevant professionals.

We will explain what a Mental Health Act assessment is and what the outcomes may be.  If you are sectioned or detained, a member of staff will give you written information about the section of the Act under which you have been placed, and will help you to understand the information. It usually requires two doctors (one of whom is normally your GP) and a social worker to agree that you need to stay in hospital for assessment and/or treatment.  People detained under the Mental Health Act are sometimes called “formal patients”.

Can I appeal against being detained?

Yes, to watch some films about this CLICK HERE. You have the right to appeal against your detention under the Mental Health Act (1983). Your named nurse or social worker can give you more information about how to appeal and can also help you get independent support, from an advocate or solicitor. You are entitled to legal aid if represented by a solicitor. If you are discharged from a Section this does not mean you have to leave hospital: you can remain as an informal patient if you wish.


Subject to your wishes, there are some occasions when your nearest relative or carer will need to be informed and consulted about your care.  It may also be necessary to provide them with confidential information about you, but this will only be with your consent.

Section 17 leave

If you are detained under the Mental Health Act you may be granted leave (to go home or to another place) but only with your consultant’s written permission. Please discuss this with a member of staff so that they can put your request forward to your consultant.


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