10 Station Street, Rainhill, L35 0LP
Tel: 0151 430 7529
Areas Of Law
Hogans Solicitors are committed to improving the lives of those people who suffer from Mental Health problems. Our staff are experienced at dealing with a wide range of problems and have for some years been at the forefront of Mental Health law. Our team will help with any problem that you may have. Listed below are some common questions and answers. Please contact us if you need to know more. Our Freephone number is 0800 328 3601.
If you use mental health services, you are generally free to choose which services to use, including which treatments to have, and whether to stay in hospital. However, if you're 'sectioned', you may have to stay in hospital for treatment whether or not you want it. Sectioning means having you held (detained) in hospital for treatment because of your mental illness.
Sectioning is when you have to go into hospital because of your mental illness. A family member or your doctor may ask for you to be sectioned if they're worried about you.
By law, two doctors must agree that you need to be in hospital. A third person must then decide whether to section you. This person is normally a social worker who is an expert in mental health matters, but it could be your 'nearest relative' (see 'Who is my 'nearest relative' and can I change who this is?' below).
You can be sectioned only according to the terms set out in a law called the Mental Health Act. But you can say what help you think you need for your mental illness. Your doctors and social worker must then try to arrange this help if it will prevent you being sectioned.
There are three different types of section:
Any doctor, including a psychiatrist, should always ask if you agree (consent) to a treatment, for example drugs. But in some cases if you have been sectioned, you can be given treatment for a mental disorder even if you say you don't want it. There are rules about how this can happen:
If you don't want a particular treatment, tell your doctor and explain why. If the doctor still says you must have the treatment, contact us for advice.
If you agree to go into hospital for treatment and have not been sectioned, you are normally free to leave when you want. But the doctor in charge of your care can keep you in hospital for up to three days to assess you to see whether you should be sectioned. Unless you are then sectioned, you are free to leave after the assessment.
Your nearest relative is a person who has certain rights and powers about:
You do not choose your nearest relative. Who it is depends on rules set out in the Mental Health Act. For example, if you have a wife, husband or civil partner, they are your nearest relative. Otherwise, it will be another member of your family or a person who lives with or cares for you - it is not always someone related to you.
If your nearest relative does not want to be involved in decisions about your mental health care, they can allow someone else to do this.
If you are held in hospital because you've been sectioned, you should be told:
If you are held in hospital, you also have the right to:
You should be discharged, and your section should end, as soon as it is clear you no longer need to be held in hospital. The doctor in charge of your care and treatment will decide this. You can then leave hospital or agree to stay as an 'informal' (sometimes called voluntary) patient.
If you are held under section 2 or section 3, your nearest relative can write to the hospital managers asking for you to be discharged. The hospital managers may consider letting you leave, though they don't have to.
Also, at any time you can tell the hospital managers that you think you should be discharged. They may then decide to hold a hearing where you can explain why.
If the hospital doesn't agree to discharge you, you can apply to the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT). The MHRT is independent from the hospital. It will hear your case and decide whether you should be discharged.
You can have a specialist mental health solicitor, such as Hogans, to put your case for you to the tribunal. Legal aid will pay for the solicitor's legal costs.
You should be assessed to see what help you will need when you leave hospital. This could include things such as:
The people who assess you should ask you what you think you will need. If a friend or relative helps or looks after you, they should be asked too.
If you are arrested for something that was not very serious, and the police think you have mental health problems, they may just drop the case. If the police question you, you should ask to have a solicitor so you get proper legal advice.
The police should also make sure you have help from an 'appropriate adult' - a family member or social worker, for example, who will help you while you are at the police station.
You can contact our specialist Mental Health team who will be able to advise you on the best course of action. You can contact the team via our freephone number, 0800 328 3601.
If you need help with the costs of legal advice, you can apply for legal aid. Whether you will get it will depend on:
Hogans are happy to speak to you and assess whether you are eligible for legal aid.