Mental Health Act 1983 - What happens?
When you are sectioned, three people must agree that you need to be detained in hospital. This is not always the case and depends on how urgent the situation is.
Usually, the three people would be:
- an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) or the nearest relative
- a doctor who has been given special training (known as a section 12 approved doctor)
- a registered medical practitioner (another doctor).
Normally they will make this decision by interviewing you. During the interview you may be asked about a number of things, including:
- how you are feeling
- thoughts that you are having
- any plans you may have made to harm yourself or others
- your lifestyle
- your daily routine
- whether you have been taking your medication
- whether you have been using drugs or alcohol
- your living situation
The interview may happen at your home, in hospital, in a place of safety or in a police station. If you are not in hospital they will usually arrange for you to be taken there in an ambulance. Sometimes the police may accompany the medical professionals or take you to hospital.
The two doctors must agree that you have 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, your own safety or to protect the safety of other people. If possible, one of the doctors should already know you.
The role of an AMHP can be carried out by social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists and nurses. The AMHP normally gives a non-medical view about detention. This might include looking at social aspects such as your living situation or whether you are looking after yourself properly.
The AMHP will then decide whether to make an application to a hospital for a bed for you. Whoever makes the application must have seen you within the past 14 days. The doctors must have seen you together or within five days of each other.
The nearest relative may be involved depending on the section and whether it is appropriate for them to be involved.
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