Section 3 of the mental health act 1983 – substantially amended in the year 2007.

The mental health act  was published in the year 1983 and is a law that sets out when you can be detained, admitted and treated against your wishes. This is also known as being ‘sectioned’. About a quarter of patients are ‘sectioned’ under the mental health act and these patients are know as formal patients. Formal patients have more restrictions imposed on them in comparison to informal patients. This is because, a psychiatrist deem them either at risk to themselves or others and vice versa hence these restrictions. Before one is ‘sectioned’ under the mental health act, an ‘approved mental health professional’ (AMHP), an approved clinician and a section 12 approved doctor will carry out the duty of placing an individual on a section. An AMHP consists of a social worker, mental health nurse, occupational therapist or psychologist who has received special training to help decide whether people need to be admitted into hospital. An ‘approved clinician’ is a doctor, a psychologist, a mental health nurse, an occupational therapist or a social worker who has been trained and approved (for five years at a time) to carry out certain duties under the Mental Health Act by an organisation acting on behalf of the Secretary of State in England or Welsh Ministers in Wales.A doctor who is ‘approved’ under Section 12 of the Act is approved on behalf of the Secretary of State (or the Welsh Ministers) as having special expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of ‘mental disorders’. Doctors who are approved clinicians are automatically approved under Section 12. Section 12 approved doctors have a role in deciding whether someone should be detained in hospital under Section 2 and Section 3 of the Mental Health Act.

Once sectioned under section 3 of the mental health act, you will be detained for a period of 6 months. When this has been renewed, you can appeal once in 6 months after which you can only appeal yearly. Patients under section 3 of the mental health act have the right to apply for discharge to the mental health act managers at any point in time. Patients can ask for the help of an independent mental health advocate who can assisst them raise any issues with their care and treatment. It is of paramount importance that a leaflet is given to you explaining your rights under section 3 of the mental health act. The patient will need to demonstrate they have understood their rights and this should be read to them in their preferred language. A section 132 form is completed and faxed to the mental health act office once this has been completed. The Mental health act law 1983 states that, patient under section 3 of the mental health act cannot refuse treatment. You can be treated against your will for three months however, after this, you will have to be seen by a second opinion doctor who will assess you to determine if you need further treatment. This means after three months, treatment can only be given without your consent, with a second opinion doctor’s approval.

Who can discharge me?

The tribunal.

Responsible clinician.

Mental health act managers.

The tribunal

Nearest relative. (this can however be overruled by the responsible clinician).

Section 117 aftercare. 

This is the care you get when you leave hospital. This involves, specialist housing, employment, education and free prescription for mental health medication. Section 117 aftercare should only be stopped when you do not need help from the NHS or social services anymore. If there are any problems you should contact your care co-ordinator or  other contacts in the NHS. If this does not happen, you should consider making a complaint or contacting your solicitor.


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