It is the intention of the Act that, wherever possible, people are admitted to hospital “informally”, i.e. without using the formal powers of the Act [Section 131]. In the event of a person being unwilling to go into hospital it may be possible to compulsorily detain them for assessment and/or treatment in the interests of their own health or safety, or for the protection of others. The grounds for compulsory admission, assessment or treatment are that the person is suffering from a mental disorder of a nature or degree that warrants his/her detention in hospital for assessment and/or treatment and that such admission is necessary in the interests of the health and safety of the person and/or the protection of other people. Where the detention in hospital is for treatment, there must be appropriate medical treatment available.
The Approved Mental Health Professional has responsibility for co-ordinating the process of Mental Health Act assessment and must be satisfied that compulsory detention is the most appropriate way of providing care and medical treatment. In reaching this decision they will interview the patient in a ‘suitable manner’, which should take into account language and cultural needs of the individual, consider the social circumstances of the case, take account of any previous psychiatric history and consider alternative resources to detention in hospital. The application by the Approved Mental Health Professional must be supported by two medical recommendations.