This section looks at the role of the nearest relative. This is a term used in the Mental Health Act. It covers who someone’s nearest relative would be, what the nearest relative’s rights are and other important information. You may find it useful if you care for someone with a mental illness who is under the Mental Health Act. You might also find it useful if you yourself are under the Mental Health Act.
- The ‘nearest relative’ is a legal term used in the Mental Health Act. It is not the same as the next of kin. The next of kin has no rights under the Mental Health Act.
- The nearest relative has some rights when someone is, or may be, detained under the Mental Health Act (this is sometimes called ‘being sectioned’ or ‘being held under section’).
- Nearest relatives can ask for an assessment to decide if their relative should be detained under the Mental Health Act. They can also request that their relative is discharged from hospital.
- An application can be made to the County Court to have a nearest relative removed or changed if they do not feel that they are the right person for the role.
- The nearest relative does not have the right to be told everything about the patient. This could include information about what treatment the patient is taking. This will depend on whether the patient is happy for information to be shared.
This section covers:
- Key words
- What is the Mental Health Act 1983?
- What is the nearest relative?
- Who is the nearest relative?
- What are the nearest relative rights?
- What happens if someone does not want to be the nearest relative?
- What happens if someone does not have a nearest relative?
- Does everyone have a nearest relative?
- Can the nearest relative be removed?
- Can an approved mental health professional remove the nearest relative?
- What happens if the nearest relative is removed?
- How can the nearest relative discharge their relative from the Mental Health Act?
- What is a mental health tribunal?
- Nearest relative points to remember
- Sample Letters
These pages are created by Rethink Mental Illness' Advice Service in accordance with the Information Standard. Last reviewed in February 2016. Next review date February 2018.
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