Mental Health Act

If a person with a mental disorder, who puts their health or safety or the safety of others at risk of harm, is unable or unwilling to agree to either be admitted to hospital or remain in hospital the Mental Health Act 1983 gives powers to admit the person, keep them in hospital and insist on them taking medication.  This is known as being sectioned.


To be sectioned, three people must agree that you need to be detained in hospital.

The three people will be:

a. Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP)

The AMHP completes the application.

The AMHP may talk to your nearest relative if detention under Section 2 is being considered.

If detention under Section 3 is being considered, then the AMHP has to talk to your nearest relative unless it is not practical to do so, or if you do not have a nearest relative within the meaning of the MHA 1983.

b. Two doctors

One who must have special training and the other must be a registered medical practitioner.

If possible one of the doctors should already know you but this is not always the case.

Where will the interview happen?

The interview with the 3 professionals may happen in your home, in hospital, in a place of safety or in a police station.

If you are not in hospital, then arrangements will be made to take you to there. This is usually by ambulance, but in certain situations the police may provide the transport.

Sections explained

Non-urgent advice: Further information

If you require more information about these or any of the other aspect of the Mental Health Act, please contact Paula Courtney, Mental Health Act Service Manager.

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Page last reviewed: 18 August, 2023