Mental Health Act
The Mental Health Act is the law governing the compulsory treatment of certain people who have a mental disorder. It is the main piece of legislation that covers the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health disorder.
The Mental Health Act defines the term ’mental disorder’ as ‘any disorder or disability of mind'. It includes mental health conditions such as
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Eating disorders
- Personality disorders
It also includes other conditions such as dementia, changes in behaviour due to brain injury, mental disorders due to drug use and autistic spectrum disorders. The definition includes learning disability only where it is associated with abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible behaviour.
If you have problems with alcohol or drug use, you can only be sectioned if you have a mental disorder as well as a drug or alcohol problem.
The Mental Health Act represents a careful balance between the individual rights of patients and society’s responsibility to protect them and other people from harm.
- The Mental Health Act is the law which sets out when you can be admitted, detained and treated in hospital against your wishes. It is also known as being ‘sectioned’.
- For this to happen, certain people must agree that you have a mental disorder that requires a stay in hospital. In hospital you will have an assessment and be given treatment if needed.
- This is only done when you are putting your own safety or someone else’s at risk.
- You can sometimes be given treatment even if you don’t want it.
- There are different sections of the Mental Health Act that have different aims
You have certain rights under the Mental Health Act, including the right to appeal and the right to get help from an advocate.