Mental Health Act assessments

What to do if you’re worried that someone is having a mental health crisis or emergency, and they won’t agree to get help.

What to do if someone won’t agree to get help

If you’re worried that someone is having a mental health, or emotional health crisis, but they won’t agree to get help, speak to their GP or mental health worker. 

You can also contact the Mental Health Rapid Response Service for advice

NHS.UK has more information about how to deal with a mental health crisis or emergency.

To give someone the help they need, and keep them safe, sometimes they may need to go to hospital. 

If they don’t agree to this, they may need to have a Mental Health Act assessment, under the Mental Health Act 1983, to get them the help they need. 

About Mental Health Act (MHA) assessments

An MHA assessment is a conversation between: 

  • the person with the mental health difficulty
  • a mental health trained doctor, usually a psychiatrist
  • a second registered doctor
  • an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP), usually a social worker
  • family, carers or friends of the person with the mental health difficulty

What happens during the assessment

The assessors will ask the person questions about what they do, think, say and believe.

They will listen to the people concerned about them, and pay attention to any risks to the person or to others. 

They will discuss how to keep the person safe, and what immediate care or treatment is needed.

You can read more about MHA assessments, and find out if you need an assessment or treatment

What happens next

The doctors and the AMHP will have a private conversation, and find the least restrictive option.

Keeping people out of hospital is preferred, but they must stick to the law and the Mental Health Act 1983 code of practice

They could decide the person needs:

  • advice and support
  • a specialist service
  • admission to hospital with the person’s agreement, known as an informal admission
  • admission to hospital without the person’s agreement, known as being sectioned

What to do if you're admitted to hospital without your agreement

If you’re sectioned under the MHA, and admitted to hospital, you cannot leave the hospital freely. 

The MIND website has information about your rights, and information about how an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) can explain your rights and represent you

The role of the nearest relative

Most people have a relative who, in the MHA is called the nearest relative.

Nearest relative is a legal term, and this person may not be the next of kin, or nearest family member. The AMHP will tell you who the nearest relative is.

The nearest relative has some legal rights, and can ask for an AMHP to consider whether a person should be admitted to hospital or not.

The AMHP must act on the request from the nearest relative, and explain their decisions to them. 

Find out more about the role of the nearest relative.

How to contact an AMHP

You can phone 0300 304 0075, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. 

Outside these hours phone 01273 295 555.