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Mental Health Act Assessments

A Mental Health Act Assessment is an assessment to decide whether you should be detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act to make sure you receive care and medical treatment for a mental disorder.

The people carrying out the assessment will consider other community based options that might help you, such as support and treatment in your home. The assessors will try to consider all the options and listen to your opinions and, if possible, will talk to your close family.

Mental Health Act Assessments are usually carried out by:

The doctors and AMHP will make a Mental Health Act Assessment by interviewing you and by speaking to other professionals who know you and your close family.

During the interview they may ask you about a number of things, including:

  • how you're feeling and what thoughts you're having
  • your lifestyle, daily routine and living situation
  • whether you've been taking any medication you're prescribed
  • whether you’ve been using drugs or alcohol
  • any plans you may have made to harm yourself or others

If you're being assessed under the Mental Health Act you can:

  • ask to have someone with you for support (this might be a family member, friend or advocate)
  • ask for a short break in the interview if you need to
  • ask to speak to the AMHP alone

The role of an approved mental health professional (AMHP)

The role of the Approved Mental Health Professional in the assessment process is to give a non-medical view about your situation. This might include looking at social aspects of your life such as your living situation, what support you have and whether you’re looking after yourself properly.

Outcomes of a Mental Health Act Assessment

If the assessors decide to detain you in hospital the 2 doctors must agree that you are suffering from a mental disorder and that you need to be detained in hospital for assessment or treatment. They must also agree that it is in the interests of your own health and safety or to protect the safety of other people. The possible outcomes of the assessment are:

Section 2

Section 2 of the Mental Health Act authorises your detention in hospital for assessment of your mental disorder (or assessment followed by treatment). Detention under Section 2 can normally only last for up to 28 days.

Section 3

Section 3 of the Act authorises your detention in hospital so that you can receive treatment for your mental disorder. Detention under Section 3 can last for an initial period of up to 6 months, after which it can be renewed if necessary.

Supervised Community Treatment or Community Treatment Order

You can be placed on a Supervised Community Treatment Order after being detained in hospital under 'treatment sections' of the Mental Health Act. The Community Treatment Order will set out certain conditions that you must comply with while living in the community. If you fail to comply, you can be returned ('recalled') to hospital.

Getting support

If you have been detained under the Mental Health Act, independent specialist advocacy services can help you to understand your legal rights and express your views. You can contact the service yourself or a family member or friend can make the referral for you.

You also have the right to appeal against your detention (within a specified period) and ward staff will support you to obtain a solicitor to act on your behalf.

You may also wish to find out about mental health crisis support services including helplines and mental health services and therapies.

Support if you are the person's nearest relative

If you care for someone who is being assessed under the Mental Health Act the AMHP carrying out the assessment will support you and answer your queries wherever possible.

If you are also the person's nearest relative then the AMHP must let you know within a reasonable time if they are going to be detained under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act. If you don't agree with the decisions you can object by writing to the managers of the hospital the person is detained in.

The 'Mental Health Act Assessment – Information for Carers' leaflet attached to this page has further information about your rights as the nearest relative or carer.

The Carers in Derbyshire website has general advice and information for carers. You may also wish to consider getting a Carers Emergency Card.