You can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Mental Health) if you’re admitted (‘detained’) as a patient in a psychiatric hospital (‘sectioned’) and want to be discharged.
You can apply on a patient’s behalf if you’re their:
- legal representative
- ‘nearest relative’
The tribunal is independent of government and will listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision.
You can also apply to the tribunal if you want to change:
- a community treatment order
- the conditions placed on your ‘conditional discharge’ from hospital
When you can apply
When you can apply depends on how you were admitted. If you’re unsure about how you were admitted, ask your doctor (or lawyer, if you have one).
If you’ve been admitted for assessment (‘section 2’)
You can apply within the first 14 days of being admitted.
If you’ve been admitted for treatment (‘section 3’)
You can apply anytime within the first 6 months that you’re admitted.
If you’re sectioned 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’re a restricted patient
Get legal advice if you’re a ‘restricted patient’, for example, you’ve received an order from the Crown Court or been transferred from prison.
Your deadline for applying to the tribunal will depend on your situation.
Help you can get
You can get free legal help if you’re a patient. It does not cost you anything as it’s paid for by legal aid.
Find a legal advisor near you or ask the tribunal to find one for you when you apply.
You can also get advice from: