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22 Mental Health

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1. Introduction

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?

12. Mental health and The Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act 1998 is an important, wide-ranging law that came into effect in 2000. It says all public authorities must act in accordance with the European Convention of Human Rights. Among the rights that could affect you are the 'right to liberty', the 'right to respect for private and family life' and the right to a fair trial. The Act applies to NHS trusts and also to independent hospitals where people are detained under the Mental Health Act.

The Human Rights Act has brought about some important changes to the Mental Health Act. For example, it has led to a change in the rules for identifying the nearest relative so that gay and lesbian partners are treated in the same way as people who are married or in heterosexual relationships.

See also the Gurkha Free Legal Advice leaflet, '' for more information.


Future changes

The Government plans to amend the Mental Health Act 1983. The proposed changes are currently being considered by Parliament. Also, following a court case at the European Court of Human Rights, the Government plans to introduce new safeguards for people with a mental disorder who are admitted into hospital or care homes (without using the Mental Health Act 1983) when they lack the capacity to agree to this and their care and treatment is considered a deprivation of their liberty. See ´What about people who lack capacity to agree to be detained?´


13. Terms used in mental health law

14. Further help

15. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (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regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.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: January 2007

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