Mental Health

Mental Health Problems

There are various levels of mental illness.  Some conditions can be temporary, some permanent and progressive and some intermittent but non progressive.  Many conditions can affect an individual’s capacity for decision making for a period, short of incapacity requiring a guardianship.

Sometimes people with mental illness may be forced to be kept in hospital or given treatment they may not want.  There are strict rules as to when this can happen.  The rules only apply where the mental illness is relatively severe – even if only temporarily.  There are also strict rules giving clear rights to patients in this position. If a patient disagrees with what officials want to do – a case can be taken to a Mental Welfare Tribunal.  This is a special panel set up just to deal with patient’s issues.  The tribunal can decide what is to happen if a patient disagrees with what is planned for them.   A tribunal can even stop someone being detained.

If someone is detained as a patient in hospital

Free legal aid is available to them to get legal advice
Our lawyers can visit the patient in hospital
We can check on the person’s status as a patient
We can get a second medical opinion if wanted
We can go to a tribunal to argue a patient’s case.
A patient has certain other rights - one is to appoint a Named Person to support them.  That person is often a friend or relative, and he named person can also apply for free legal aid to ensure the patients interests are looked after.

Advance Statements
Sometimes people have mental illnesses which may definitely get worse or which may affect the person temporarily – on other words “come and go”

Patients with these illnesses can write a document called and “Advance Statement”.  These sets out what their wishes are about future treatment – for example what drugs they might want or not want.  This document should be followed by doctors and people caring for patients. If a doctor does not want to follow an advance statement he must explain why to the Mental Health Tribunal.  Legal aid is available

to anyone wanting to write such a statement.  If you have an illness it is really important to write your advance statement before your illness gets too bad.


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