The legislation that allows your loved one to be detained

If your loved one is either unable to keep themselves safe or is a danger to other people, then they can be detained under the Mental Health Act. This is commonly known as ‘being sectioned.’

As you can imagine – the legislation required to remove someone’s liberty is cumbersome and lengthy. The role and rights of carers within the act is laid out and it isn’t always as simple as it seems. Children under the age of 18 can be detained under the Mental Health Act and your rights of a parent can be overridden – for example, if your child is detained, you don’t have the right to demand their release and this can come as a shock. Understanding the legislation – at least the parts that affect you and your loved one – is essential.

Codes of Practice

Below are links to the Codes of Practice that underpin the Mental Health Acts according to each devolved nation. (The exception is Northern Ireland that appears to work to a different system so a local charitable law centre link has been provided instead who should be able to give you better information). The codes set out how professionals should work with you and your loved one if they are considering detaining your loved one, or if you believe that it is necessary.



Northern Ireland


Information from the experts

There is good information about the Mental Health Act and what it means for you and your loved one on the websites below.

Complaining about the use of the Mental Health Act

If you need to make a complaint about your loved ones care or treatment whilst in hospital or after they have been discharged, it is best to contact:

If your complaint is to do with the use of the Mental Health Act, then contact Care Quality Commission (CQC). There is more information on their website.