Mental Health Law – Your Rights

Information is given below about detention under the Mental Health (Jersey) Law. This includes the criteria for detention, information about different Articles and the rights of someone who has been detained.

This information has been prepared by the Mind Jersey Independent Mental Health Advocate and has been checked by an Approved Social Worker.

  • The Mental Health (Jersey) Law is the law which sets out when you can be admitted, detained and treated in hospital against your wishes.
  • For this to happen, certain people must agree that you have a mental disorder that requires a stay in hospital. There you will have an assessment and be given treatment if needed.
  • This is only done when you are putting your own safety or someone else’s at risk.
  • You can sometimes be given treatment even if you don’t want it.
  • You have certain rights under the Mental Health Law, including the right to appeal. Mind Jersey employs an Independent Mental Health Advocate who can help you with this. (this service is free)
  • The information below only covers the ‘civil sections’ of the Mental Health Law, and does not cover sections that involve criminal law.

The Mental Health Law defines the term ’mental disorder’ as ‘mental illness…..or any other disorder or disability of mind’. This would normally include mental health conditions such as:

It also includes other conditions such as dementia, changes in behaviour due to brain injury, mental disorders due to drug use and autistic spectrum disorders.

If you have problems with alcohol or drug use, in practice you should only be detained if you have a mental disorder as well as a drug or alcohol problem.

When you are detained, three people must agree that you need to be detained in hospital.

Usually, the three people would be:

  • A Mental Health Professional, referred to as a Duly Authorized Officer (usually a qualified social worker)
  • two doctors

Normally they will make this decision by interviewing you. During the interview you may be asked about a number of things, including:

  • how you are feeling
  • thoughts that you are having
  • any plans you may have made to harm yourself or others
  • your lifestyle
  • your daily routine
  • whether you have been taking your medication
  • whether you have been using drugs or alcohol
  • your living situation

You might feel that you do not need to be detained. If this is the case, you should let the professionals know the reasons why. You may want to explain more about how things are at home and what support you have in place. They will listen to what you have to say and consider all alternatives to detaining you under the Mental Health Law. It is their duty to consider the least restrictive alternative to coming in to hospital. If you wish to have a friend or family member with you during a Mental Health Law assessment, or if you feel particularly anxious, you should let the Duly Authorized Officer or your nearest relative know.

The interview may happen at your home, in hospital, in a place of safety or in a police station. If you are not in hospital they will usually arrange for you to be taken there in a hospital. Sometimes the police may accompany the medical professionals or take you to hospital.

The two doctors must agree that you have a mental disorder and that you need to be detained in hospital for assessment or treatment. They must also agree that it is in the interests of your own health, your own safety or to protect the safety of other people. If possible, one of the doctors should already know you.

The role of a Duly Authorized Officer is usually carried out by social workers. The DAO normally gives a non-medical view about detention. This might include looking at social aspects such as your living situation or whether you are looking after yourself properly.

If you meet the criteria of the law the DAO will then decide whether to make an application to a hospital for a bed for you. Whoever makes the application must have seen you within the past 14 days. The doctors must have seen you together or within five days of each other.

The nearest relative may be consulted depending on the Article. However they have no role in making the decision.

You might find that being taken to hospital against your will is stressful and upsetting. You may find it useful to get support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate. (IMHA)

The aim of an IMHA is to help you make decisions about your care and treatment. They can also help you find out what your rights are. You can ask about seeing an IMHA when you are in hospital. The hospital staff should give you details of the service.

If you are an informal or voluntary patient (meaning you are in hospital but not detained), you will still be able access an Independent Mental Health Advocate whilst on the ward.

If you are detained under the Mental Health Law and wish to appeal, you can get free legal representation at your Mental Health Review Tribunal under the Legal Aid scheme. The IMHA will help you apply and submit the necessary paperwork.

Article 6

Under an Article 6, you are detained in hospital for assessment of your mental health and to receive any treatment you might need. An assessment will normally look at:

  • whether you suffer from a mental disorder,
  • which type of mental disorder you have,
  • whether you need any treatment and how you might respond.

You will be placed under an Article 6 if you have not been assessed in hospital before or if you have not been assessed in hospital for a long time.

How is an Article 6 carried out?

To be placed under an Article 6

  • an application for admission to hospital under an Article 6 must be made by an Duly Authorized Officer
  • you must be seen by two separate doctors. One of these must have had specialist training to undertake this role,
  • the doctors must have seen you within 5 days of each other,
  • admission to hospital must be arranged within 14 days of the last medical examination.

 How long can I be detained for?

You can be kept in hospital for up to 28 days, but this doesn’t mean you will stay that long. If the doctors believe you are not well enough to be discharged.  An Article 6 can’t be renewed but you may be transferred onto an Article 7 (see below).

What are my rights on an Article 6?

You have the following rights when you are detained under an Article 6:

  • You have the right to appeal against your detention to a Tribunal during the first 14 days that you are detained.
  • You can ask for the help of an Independent Mental Health Advocate who can help you appeal, obtain legal representation or help you to raise any issues you have with your care and treatment.

You should be given a Patient Rights Leaflet by a member of the hospital staff which tells you about your legal rights.

Can I be treated against my will?

Under Article 6 you can’t refuse treatment. However some treatments can’t be given to you without your consent unless certain criteria are met. These treatments include electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). If you are unhappy about your treatment, you should talk to your named nurse or psychiatrist. An Independent Mental Health Advocate may be able to help you put your case forward.

Who can discharge me?

You can be discharged from Article 6 by:

  • The doctor responsible for your care in hospital (known as the Responsible Clinician)
  • Your nearest relative can apply to have you discharged (although this can be overruled by the Responsible Clinician)
  • The Mental Health Review Tribunal

What sort of aftercare can I expect?

For many people the time after you have been discharged is a difficult period. This is because returning to your home and community can be stressful. Before you are discharged, a care plan should be made which will look at how your needs will be met. You will be invited to contribute to this and you will be given a copy. The mental health team will usually agree to contact you within 48 hours of discharge to see how you are getting on.

Article 7

Under an Article 7 you are detained in hospital for treatment. Treatment might be necessary your health, your safety or for the protection of other people.

You can be detained under Article 7 if you are well known to mental health services and there is no need for you to be assessed under Article 6. Alternatively, you may be detained under Article 7 following an admission under Article 6.

How is an Article 7 carried out?

To be detained under an Article 7:

  • an application must be made by a Duly Authorized Officer.
  • you must also be seen by two separate doctors. One of these must have had specialist training to undertake this role,
  • the doctors must have seen you within 5 days of each other,
  • admission to hospital must be arranged within 14 days of the last medical examination.

How long can I be detained for?

You can be detained for up to 12 months, but you will not remain in hospital any longer than is considered necessary.

What are my rights on an Article 7?

You have the following rights when you are detained under Article 7:

  • You have the right to appeal against detention to a Mental Health Review Tribunal once during the first six months of detention.
  • If your Article 7 is on-going, you can appeal once during the second six months.
  • You can ask for the help of an Independent Mental Health Advocate who can assist you with an appeal and obtaining legal representation, and can also help you to raise any issues you have with your care and treatment.

You should be given a Patient Rights Leaflet by a member of the hospital staff which explains your legal rights.

Can I be treated against my will?

Under an Article 7 you may not refuse treatment.

You can’t be given certain treatments without your consent unless specific criteria are fulfilled. These treatments include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

If you are unhappy about your treatment you should talk to your named nurse or psychiatrist. An Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) may be able to help you put your case forward.

Who can discharge me?

You can be discharged from an Article 7 by:

  • The doctor responsible for your care in hospital (Responsible Clinician)
  • Your nearest relative can apply for a discharge (although this can be overruled by the Responsible Clinician)
  • The Mental Health Review Tribunal

What sort of aftercare can I expect?

For many people the time after you have been discharged is a difficult period. This is because returning to your home and community can be stressful, particularly if you have been in hospital for a long time. Before you are discharged, a care plan should be made which will look at how your needs will be met. You will be invited to contribute to this and you will be given a copy. The mental health team will usually agree to contact you within 48 hours of discharge to see how you are getting on.

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