Being detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983

Information about the Mental Health Act 1983, being detained (or sectioned) in hospital under the Act, what your rights are, and where to get more information

The Mental Health Act (1983) is the main piece of legislation that covers the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health disorder.

What does 'being sectioned' mean?

In most cases, when people are treated in hospital or a mental health facility, they have agreed or volunteered to be there.

However, there are cases when a person can be detained (also known as sectioned) under the Mental Health Act (1983) and treated without their agreement.

These people usually need urgent treatment for a mental health disorder and are at risk of harm to themselves or others.

The Mental Health Act Code of Practice

The Mental Health Act Code of Practice tells everyone how to use this law and what they must do.

It's important that you know what happens to you when you're detained, what your rights are, and where you can seek help.

For more information about being sectioned under the Mental Health Act, visit the NHS website.

Someone to speak on your behalf

People who are admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act are entitled to help from an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA). The IMHA is independent of the hospital and is employed to speak on your behalf. They can help you discuss your feelings about your care and what support you may need in the future.

You should automatically be offered the support of an IMHA by hospital staff if you are detained. If you would like to contact an IHMA yourself, you can call Rethink Essex Advocacy:

Contact Rethink Essex Advocacy

Telephone: 0300 790 0559


For more information on advocacy, visit our Advocacy page.

Mental health aftercare

If you have been formally admitted to hospital your care team will arrange a discharge planning meeting with you whilst still an inpatient to explore the support you need after you leave hospital.

For more information on mental health aftercare, visit the NHS website.

Easy read

The following organisations provide easy read versions of related information: