Information for the public
What should happen if I am treated under the Mental Health Act?
If there is a serious risk to yourself or others, you may be detained and treated under the Mental Health Act. Health and social care professionals should consider and discuss with you and your family and carer other options first; these may include a review of any medication you are taking, respite care (for example, social services accommodation where you can stay overnight), treatment in hospital as a 'day patient' (you stay during the day but go home at night), treatment at home or a 'crisis house' (safe accommodation for people in crisis).
If you are detained under the Mental Health Act, professionals should treat you with dignity and respect and address your needs. They should explain and make sure you understand why it is happening. You should also be given written information such as a 'patient rights leaflet' about the section of the Mental Health Act that applies to you and what your rights are.
If you are detained under the Mental Health Act you have the right to an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA). Health and social care professionals should give you information about IMHAs and make sure you can get help from one.
The police will only be involved if your safety or the safety of others is a concern and cannot be managed by other means. If the police take you to a 'place of safety', you should be assessed under the Mental Health Act as soon as possible and within 4 hours of arriving there. Places of safety include hospitals or other healthcare services.
If you are detained under the Mental Health Act you will be taken to a hospital. Your journey there should be comfortable and without delays, and transition to the ward should be smooth, efficient and comfortable. Your family or carer should be able to travel with you if it is safe. When you arrive at the hospital, staff should welcome you.
If you are being treated under the Mental Health Act, you may not understand why, or you may disagree with the decision. You have a right to appeal to a mental health tribunal, and health and social care professionals should support you if you decide to appeal and tell you how the process works and how long it may take. If you wish to complain about care you are given while under the Mental Health Act, you can complain to the service detaining you; if you are not satisfied with their response you can then complain to the Care Quality Commission. You should be told how to do this.
Questions about being treated under the Mental Health Act
Why have I been detained under the Mental Health Act?
Can I refuse treatment?
Can I have an advocate?
Do I have to go to hospital?
How long will I have to stay in hospital?
Can I leave the ward if I want to?
How can I appeal against being treated under the
Mental Health Act?
Sometimes people with mental health problems may need to be controlled or restrained by staff when in hospital, or have treatment without their agreement (such as medication to calm them down quickly). This should be a last resort. If this happens to you, it should be done by trained staff, and preferably by staff you know and trust. They should act with your best interests at heart and will make sure you are safe while using minimum force.
If you are controlled, restrained or are given treatment without your agreement, the reasons should be explained to you and to your family or carer (if they are involved in your care). When you leave hospital, you should be offered the chance to discuss such treatment with professionals. You should also have the opportunity to write about your experience in your care record, including any disagreements with professionals.
If you witness someone else being controlled or restrained you should be offered support and time to discuss the experience if you find it distressing.