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Context of the study: Mental Health Act Assessments

A Mental Health Act (MHA) Assessment is an assessment to decide whether someone should be compulsorily detained in hospital under the MHA 1983 if they are unwilling to be admitted on a voluntary basis and are a danger to themselves or others. Detention is usually for their protection, assessment, treatment and care  This assessment process is commonly called ‘sectioning’ after the sections of the Mental Health Act 1983.  In some cases, an assessment results in a community treatment order, rather than in hospital.  

The people carrying out the assessment will consider other community-based options that might help, such as support and treatment in the home. The assessors will try to consider all the options. 

MHA Assessments are usually carried out by: 

  • an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP).  (Most of these are social workers with additional training and approval). AMHPs are the applicant. 
  • a doctor who’s had special training (known as a section 12 approved doctor) 
  • a registered medical practitioner (another doctor) 

Creating the best communication possible is a priority during MHA Assessments. There is a legal requirement to ensure a person’s language needs are fully met if they do not use spoken English. This happens through spoken language and sign language interpreters.