Overview

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:

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:

The tribunal deals with cases in England. There are different rules in Wales and rules in Scotland.

When to apply

When you apply depends on how you were admitted - ask your doctor or lawyer (if you have one) if you’re unsure.

There are deadlines for the first time you apply - you must apply within:

  • 14 days if you’ve been admitted for assessment (‘section 2’)
  • 6 months if you’ve been admitted for treatment (‘section 3’)

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- the deadlines depend on your situation.

If you miss the deadline

You cannot apply to be discharged if you miss the deadline but you may be able to apply again later, for example after a year if you’ve been admitted for treatment (‘section 3’).

The tribunal will automatically look at your case again after a certain period of time. This is sometimes known as a ‘referral’. The period of time depends on your case, for example:

  • if it’s been 3 years since the tribunal gave you a hearing
  • you’ve not had a hearing in the first 6 months of your detention

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: