Mental Health consultations, Mick Bramham

Introducing the law and mental health

Mental health law is of course a specialist subject and this web site includes
a few sign-posts towards further information. It is therefore advisable to verify
any details with a lawyer who specialises in the relevant areas. As the law is
constantly changing (and I don't profess to be an expert in law) I can not
guarantee this information is up to date. However, you may find some of these
links helpful if you are looking for information on human rights or legal matters
in regard to mental health.

One of the central issues some people face are their rights to choice and
freedom (whether or not to be hospitalised for mental health concerns, or
whether or not to comply with a particular treatment) set against a doctor's
(and/or another relevant professional's) wishes to impose restrictions on
personal freedom - such as through "sectioning" within the mental health act.
This is referred to below.

Human rights for everyone

We each have the right to liberty, security and the right not to be treated in
a degrading way – as well as the right to work.  These are central to the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Human Rights Act 1998 and
the European Convention on Human Rights. The Human Rights Act 1998
incorporates into UK law the European Convention on Human Rights. More...

Every adult has the right to make his/her own decisions and must be assumed
to have capacity to do so unless it is proved otherwise – in keeping with The
Mental Capacity Act 2005. More... and here.

Human rights and mental health in particular

In the UK the 1983 Mental Health Act (and as amended 2007) details what is
often referred to as “sectioning” - compulsory admission to a psychiatric unit
for assessment or for treatment.  (Details of this act are available through the
Mind and Mental Health Law sites - please see the links on this page).

The 1983 Mental Health Act (and as amended 2007) details that patients
have the right to refuse medication except in limited circumstances (Part 4
Consent to treatment. More...).

With the Mental Health Act 2007 I understand that in some circumstances an
advance decision (living will) by a patient can overrule the doctors wish to
treat with ECT. More...

It is now (from August 2009) accepted that people considered to have a
mental illness are protected from discrimination by the European Convention
on Human Rights in that it was argued that mental illness was a disability.
This has significant implications for the workplace. More...

Community Treatment Orders (CTOs)

If you are under the restrictions of a CTO you may find it helpful to have the
advice of a lawyer who is a member of the Mental Health Lawyers Association.

See opposite for contact details.

In these circumstances you should be entitled to Independent Mental Health
Advocacy (IMHA). You can find out more about this on the internet. One such
link is here.

For more information on CTOs see here.

For a look at a review of research into CTOs (disparagingly referred to as
"Psychiatric Asbos") and their limitations, see here.

How to appeal against a section(source)

There are various ways a section can be removed:
- The doctor can discharge a person from a section at any time by signing the
relevant paperwork.
- The nearest relative of the patient can submit a written request asking for the
person to be discharged. The doctor has a set amount of hours to look at
this request and then make a decision.
- The patient can appeal to Associate Mental Health Act Managers (AMHAMs)
who are independent of the NHS trust to review their detention.
- Finally, a patient can also apply for a mental health tribunal. This is a judicial
process, so a solicitor is often present to represent the patient.
Members of the patient's family, a doctor, nurse and social worker will be
present at this hearing and the tribunal panel is made up of a legal, medical
and lay representative.
The patient will get a verbal decision on the day and written decision seven
days after the hearing.

More information on making an appeal (section 2).

See here.


If any of this is helpful, or not accurate, or unhelpful, or if you have helpful
suggestions from your own experience, you are welcome to let me know via my
news and views blog page here


Zigmon, T. (2011) A Clinician's Brief Guide to the Mental Health Act. UK: Royal College of

Line Liberty Human Rights

(The National Council for Civil Liberties)

Protecting Civil Liberties & Promoting
Human Rights


Liberty advertises a Public Advice Line.
They say:
"If your query is urgent, or if you would
like to discuss your query over the
phone, you can call our public advice
line: t 0845 123 2307 or 0203 145 046

Monday and Thursday 6.30pm - 8.30pm.
Wednesday 12.30pm - 2.30pm."

        MIND for mental health  

MIND (Mind info Line t 0845 766 0163)
This site covers a range of information
on mental health rights and legislation.
See also the Mind rights guide:
Consent to treatment.

This page explains the rules on consent
to medical treatment and outlines the
situations when treatment can be given
without a person’s consent.

MIND Legal Advice Service
t 0300 466 6463 9-6 Mon-Fri

      Society of Black Lawyers

Some people may find this contact
helpful when finding a lawyer

Mental Health Law Online

This site includes the full text of the
Mental Health Acts 1983 and 2007
as well as the Mental Capacity Act
(including the Deprivation of Liberty
Safeguards) and much more.

Summaries, explanatory notes and
examples of mental health case law
are also included.

      Mental Health Lawyers Association  

To find a lawyer who is an accredited
member of the Mental Health Lawyers
t 0207 0383702

Liberty Human Rights