The Mental Health Act 1983 (amended 2007) is the legislation governing the formal detention and care of people with mental health problems in hospital.
You may find yourself detained on a section in hospital because people have concerns about your mental health. The most common sections are section 2 and section 3. Section 2 can last for up to 28 days and allows medical professionals to assess, and if necessary treat you. Section 3 can last for up to 6 months initially but can be renewed beyond that. This section is a treatment section. Both require you to have a mental disorder. There must also be a risk to your health, your safety or to other people for you to be on a section. It is also possible for you to be detained under the Mental Health Act by a criminal court. See our Forensic cases – Mentally disordered offenders page for more detail.
Whilst detained, your case will be subject to review at regular intervals by the Hospital Managers and the Mental Health Tribunal. You will also be eligible to appeal to these bodies to discharge your detention within certain time frames. Legal Aid is available for us to represent you (at no cost) at tribunals and may be available for hospital managers’ hearings depending on your financial circumstances.
If you or someone you know needs help because you or they have been detained please contact our specialist mental health team in Newcastle upon Tyne or South Shields for help, advice, and representation. We aim to visit all section 2 patients within 24 hours and all others within 48 hours.