- Mental Health Act
Mental Health Act
The Mental Health Act 1983 was updated by the Mental Health Act 2007.
The Act covers England and Wales only. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own Mental Health Acts.
The Mental Health Act defines the circumstances in which it is lawful to detain a person in hospital against their will due to their mental health. This is a very great power and responsibility, and the Act makes clear that it should only be used as a last resort, ie when there is no other reasonable option. the Act also says that any detention in hospital must be for the shortest time possible.
The term "sectioning" really describes the process by which an individual is assessed under the Mental Health Act to determine whether s/he does indeed need to be compulsorily detained in hospital. The term comes from the different sections of the Act itself which apply to different situations. For example Section 2 of the Act allows for the individual to be detained for up to 28 days for assessment, whereas Section 3 allows for the individual to be detained for up to 6 months for treatment.