What is it?

The Mental Health Act 1983 is a law that says when you can be admitted and kept and treated in hospital, despite not wanting to.

Who can be sectioned?

The Mental Health Act 1983 is said to be designed to prevent someone who has a mental health disorder from putting themselves or someone else at risk.

Two different doctors must agree that you have a mental health disorder and that you need to be kept in hospital to either be assessed (section 2), or treated (section 3), in an emergency (section 4) or prevented from leaving hospital (section 5).

What do they count as a ‘mental health disorder’?

Under the law a ‘mental health disorder’ includes:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders

What does ‘being sectioned’ mean?

This is usually what happens when someone is sectioned:  

  1. Three different people will decide that you need to be detained in hospital. These could be made up of doctors, relatives and approved mental health professionals. However this doesn’t always happen if the case is deemed too urgent.
  2. You will be interviewed. This may be at home, in a place of safety or in a police station. You will be asked how you’re feeling, the thoughts you’re having, about your lifestyle, routine and drugs and alcohol intake.

What access is there to independent support?

It is perhaps not widely known that people who are sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983 can get support from an independent mental health advocate. They can help you to:

  • Make decisions about your care and treatment
  • Learn about your rights

At the moment under the Mental Health Act 1983 they can not help you if you are:

  • Under an emergency section (section 4)
  • Being prevented from leaving hospital under section 5
  • Being kept in a place of safety under police powers

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