Overview: Mental health conditions can have a debilitating effect on an individual. Sometimes, through no fault of their own, an individual can become a danger to themselves or others due to the effects of a mental health condition. Under the terms of the Mental Health Act of 1983, it is sometimes necessary to admit an individual to a secure mental hospital, with or without their consent. Therefore, essentially sectioning is when an individual is kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act of 1983. In this article, we provide an overview of everything related to sectioning.




Key Facts: There are different types of sections, with different rules applying to each, details are below. Those who are sectioned can normally receive legal help from an independent mental health advocate. Sometimes, someone can be sectioned without their consent. It is also possible to voluntarily admit yourself to a mental institute.


When is someone sectioned? When an individual is sectioned, considerable criteria has had to have been met. This includes, but isn’t limited to:


  • An individual requires urgent treatment for a mental health problem
  • An individual whose mental health is turning life-threatening
  • An individual who is a risk to themselves or others
  • An individual whose Doctor believes they require hospital treatment, either because of a strong medication or believes it would be in their best interest.


No one can be sectioned lawfully without an assessment from mental health professionals. The professionals will normally consist of a psychiatrist, a mental health professional, and usually your GP. a thorough assessment will be made. There are staunch procedures in place to ensure that an individual is treated carefully during an assessment. Arrangements can be made for the individual if they are admitted for sectioning. You are allowed a friend or family member with you when being assessed. Ultimately, the final decision on whether or not to section an individual is down to the mental health professional.



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Types of Sections: The table below outlines the different types of sections that an individual can receive.


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The sections seen above are the most commonly seen, however there are some other relevant sections. There is a quick summary of some others below.


  • Section 5: For voluntary patients, you can be kept up to 72 hours.
  • Section 35: An individual who is accused of a crime can be remanded in hospital, providing there is evidence of a mental disorder being present. An individual satisfying this criteria will be able to be sectioned for up to 28 days, though this can be extended to anywhere up to 12 weeks.
  • Section 41: Moreover, a ‘restriction order’ can be imposed on anyone who has been remanded in court under court proceedings. This order means that the Ministry of Justice must give permission for an individual to ever be transferred or discharged. There is no time limit here.
  • Section 136: This is where a Police officer makes the decision that an individual is in need of immediate care, which allows a 24 hour stay.


For a full list, you can read the full legislation of the Mental Health Act of 1983.


Notes: The information in this page is for information purposes only. It cannot and shouldn’t replace professional advice. Moreover, Mind provide an exhaustive overview of sectioning, available at this link.