Apply to the Mental Health Tribunal
You can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) if you’re detained as a patient in a psychiatric hospital (‘sectioned’) and you want to be discharged.
You can also apply to the tribunal if you want to change:
- a community treatment order
- a guardianship order
- a conditional discharge to an absolute discharge
- the conditions placed on a conditional discharge
The tribunal is independent of the government and will listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision.
The tribunal deals with cases in England. There are different rules for Mental Health Review Tribunals in Wales and rules for Mental Health Tribunals in Scotland.
Who can apply
You can apply for yourself.
You can also ask someone to apply for you, so long as they’re not a patient in a psychiatric hospital. For example, this could be a legal representative or a family member.
Your ‘nearest relative’ can make an application without your permission.
When you can apply
When you can apply depends on how you were detained, such as if you’re a ‘restricted patient’ (you were given a restriction order by the Crown Court or you were transferred from prison with a restriction direction).
If you’re unsure about how you were detained, ask your:
- ‘responsible clinician’ (this could be a doctor, a nurse, a psychologist or another medical professional)
- legal representative, if you have one
If you do not apply, you may still be referred to the tribunal automatically.
If you’ve been detained for assessment (‘section 2’)
You can apply within the first 14 days of being detained.
If you’ve been detained for treatment (‘section 3’)
You can apply anytime within the first 6 months that you’re detained.
If you’re detained for longer than 6 months, you can apply once in the second 6 month period, then once in every 12 month period.
If you do not apply, you’ll be referred to the tribunal automatically in the second 6 months that you’re detained. You’ll be referred again after 3 years (if you’re an adult) or after 12 months (if you’re a child or adolescent).
If you’ve been detained by a court order (‘section 37’)
You can apply between 6 and 12 months from the date of the order made by the court. After that, you can apply once in every 12 month period.
If you’re a restricted patient detained under ‘section 37’ and ‘section 41’
You can apply between 6 and 12 months from the date of the hospital order made by the court. After that, you can apply once in every 12 month period.
If you’re a restricted patient who has been conditionally discharged
You can apply 12 months after you were conditionally discharged. After that, you can apply once in every 2 year period.
If you’ve been detained for any other reason
Ask your responsible clinician or legal representative about when you can apply.
Help you can get
If you’ve made the application, you can apply for legal aid to cover the costs of any legal help you get.
- find a legal advisor near you
- ask the Mental Health Act administrator at the hospital to give you their list of specialist legal representatives
- ask the tribunal to find a legal representative for you when you apply
You can also get advice from: