Mental health act


Mental Health Act

The mental health act governs the care and treatment of people who experience mental illness or a mental disorder. The Act aims to ensure that people receive the best possible care and treatment in the least restrictive way.

There are two ways that a person can be admitted to a mental health unit

1- voluntary patient

2- Involuntary patient.

Voluntary Admission

A person may be admitted to a mental health unit as a voluntary patient if an authorized medical officer is satisfied that they are likely to benefit from care and treatment in a mental health facility, and the person agrees to the admission.

Involuntary Admission

A person can also be admitted involuntarily, or against their will, to a mental health unit.

The Mental Health Act sets out strict criteria that must be met in order for someone to be admitted to a hospital against their will.

1 – The person must be mentally ill or mentally disordered

2 – There must be no other care of a less restrictive kind (such as a voluntary admission or support at home from family or a community mental health team) that is appropriate or reasonably available.

Once the schedule (Mental health document ) is completed, the mental health workers may take the person to the hospital. Sometimes police are asked to assist.

Police and ambulance officers are able to request the assessment of a person at a declared mental health facility. The Mental Health Act contains many checks and balances. Once someone has been brought to the hospital or a declared mental health facility, they are generally reviewed by the psychiatrist who decides to uphold the mental health act and patient continues to be an involuntary patient in the hospital or the psychiatrist can cancel the mental health act in which case the patient status changes to as voluntary.

The person can appeal against his involuntary admission and can be seen by the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT). Their appeal is generally heart in the next available MHRT  meeting. Till then they continue to be an involuntary patient

The rules and duration may differ slightly in different states

The MHRT is an independent body that has the power to make decisions under the Mental Health Act. When a person has been brought to the hospital against their will, it is the role of the MHRT to ensure that they are not kept in hospital against their will unless the requirements of the Mental Health Act have been met. At the initial hearing, the person will appear before three members: a lawyer, a psychiatrist, and another suitably qualified person. The Tribunal will consider “evidence” from a variety of sources, including the patient, the patient’s family, and hospital staff.

Legal Aid is provided free of charge for anyone appearing before the Tribunal.


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