22 Mental Health
2. What is the Mental Health Act for?
3. Who decides if I should be detained in hospital?
4. When can I be detained in hospital?
5. When can I be given compulsory treatment?
6. What treatment can I be given?
7. Who can discharge me from hospital?
8. What are my rights in hospital?
9. What if I am unhappy with my care and treatment?
10. Will I get help when I leave hospital?
11. What powers do the police have against people with mental health problems?
In some situations, the police can remove someone with a mental health problem to a 'place of safety' (usually a police station or a hospital) for up to 72 hours. During this time they should make arrangements for your treatment and care. These situations are if you are:
- in a public place and it appears you are suffering from a mental disorder and need urgent care and control; or
- in 'private premises' (your house, or someone else's, for example) and the police believe that you are suffering from a mental disorder and you are not being properly cared for. In this case a magistrate may provide a warrant, which gives a police officer and an approved social worker the power to take you to a 'place of safety'.
What if I am arrested?
If the police have arrested you and they later find out that you have mental health problems, they can do one of two things:
- If the offence was not a serious one, they may drop the case. They may then, with your permission, refer you to the local health or social service agencies so that your needs can be assessed.
- If the police don't drop the case, and decide to question you, they should make sure you have help from an 'appropriate adult' (a person who will support you while you are at the police station). You also have the right to a solicitor. You should ask to have a solicitor so that you have proper legal advice, in particular on how your mental health problems may affect any action the police take against you.
12. Mental health and The Human Rights Act
13. Terms used in mental health law
14. Further help
15. About this leaflet
This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Camilla Parker, and independent consultant specialising in mental health law and policy.
The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.
Leaflet Version: November 2019