Mental Health Act

The Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983 is a piece of legislation (in England and Wales) which tells people with mental health problems what their rights are regarding:

  • Assessment and treatment in hospital
  • Treatment in the community
  • Pathways into hospital, which can be civil or criminal

Many people who receive inpatient treatment on psychiatric wards have agreed to go into hospital as informal patients (also known as voluntary patients). However, roughly half are in hospital without their agreement as formal patients. This is because they have been detained under the Mental Health Act (often called being sectioned).

If you are a formal patient you lose certain rights, including the right to leave hospital freely, so if you're in this situation it's really important to know your rights under the Mental Health Act.

Further information can be found on MIND's website about:

If you're looking for information in an accessible format for people with learning disabilities, you can find a series of Easy Read factsheets on your rights under the Mental Health Act on the NHS Choices website.