- Mental Health Act
Mental Health Act 1983
Parts of the Mental Health Act 1983 were updated by the Mental Health Act 2007.
The Act covers England and Wales only. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own Mental Health Acts.
The Mental Health Act defines the circumstances in which it is lawful to detain a person in hospital against their will due to their mental health. This is a very great power and responsibility, and the Act makes clear that it should only be used as a last resort, ie when there is no other reasonable option. the Act also says that any detention in hospital must be for the shortest time possible.
The term "sectioning" really describes the process by which an individual is assessed under the Mental Health Act to determine whether s/he does indeed need to be compulsorily detained in hospital. The term comes from the different sections of the Act itself which apply to different situations. For example Section 2 of the Act allows for the individual to be detained for up to 28 days for assessment, whereas Section 3 allows for the individual to be detained for up to 6 months for treatment.
- In December 2018 a much anticipated independent review of the Mental Health Act in England & Wales was published. Click here for details. The Government has already committed itself to implementing a couple of the proposals, and will no doubt respond to the other proposals in due course.
- Click here for the Code of Practice (England)
- Click here for the Code of Practice (Wales)
- Click here to learn about the Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003
- Northern Ireland is in something of a limbo state at present. The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) received the Royal Assent in May 2016. Its purpose is to combine the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act into one single piece of legislation, which is a bit of a ground-breaking idea. However, the absence of a fully functioning Assembly in Northern Ireland means that the implementation date of this new Act is currently unclear. Until the new legislation takes effect, the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 remains the relevant piece of legislation in relation to mental health issues.