Mental capacity and mental illness
Mental capacity is the ability to make your own decisions. If you lose mental capacity the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) protects you and your rights. Sometimes you could lose mental capacity because of your mental illness. This section explains mental capacity and how the MCA works.
- The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is the law that protects you if you are not able to make decisions.
- you may lack mental capacity if:
- you cannot understand,
- or weigh up information to make a decision, or
- you can’t communicate this decision,
- Being unwell or having a mental illness does not mean you lack mental capacity.
- Sometimes a doctor will need to assess whether you have mental capacity.
- The MCA sets out who can make decisions for you if you lack capacity.
- You can make decisions about your wishes for treatment and care in case you lose capacity in the future.
- If someone makes decisions for you because you lack capacity, they need to be in your ‘best interests’.
This section covers:
- What is mental capacity?
- What is the Mental Capacity Act (MCA)?
- How do you assess mental capacity?
- How are decisions made for me if I lack capacity?
- Who gets involved if I lack capacity?
- What else does the MCA do?
- What is the difference between the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) and the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA)?
- What else is the MCA used for?
These pages are created by Rethink Mental Illness' Advice Service in accordance with the Information Standard. Last reviewed in June 2016. Next review May 2018.
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