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Mental health care in hospital

People with mental health problems will usually receive support and treatment whilst living in their own home. But occasionally it may be necessary for them to receive support as an in-patient in a hospital setting. This will depend on:

  • the nature of their mental health condition
  • the level of risk which their symptoms might pose to their own safety or to that of other people
  • the kind of treatment required to help them manage their problems

Your GP or a member of the community mental health team may suggest that your condition needs inpatient treatment in hospital. This would usually happen in consultation with you.

When you are admitted to hospital you will be allocated a key nurse who will work closely with you. You will probably be given several different forms of treatment, which will run at the same time - for example you may be prescribed medication and also be encouraged to attend groups on the ward.

As an inpatient you will be able to wear your own clothes and have visitors. The aim of inpatient care is always to enable you to return home as safely and quickly as possible.

Sometimes if someone is too ill to make the right choices for their own well-being, they will be admitted to hospital involuntarily under the Mental Health Act. This is sometimes called being 'sectioned'.

People who are admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act are entitled to support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate. This advocate is a person who is independent of the hospital and is employed to speak on your behalf. The advocate will make sure that your treatment and your rights as a patient are properly explained to you. They can also help you to put forward your views about your treatment in hospital, and about what support you may need in the future.

Normally a member of staff at the hospital should refer you to the IMHA service, but patients or their friends and relatives can also contact the service directly:-

Even if you are not detained under the Mental Health Act you may find that it is useful to have someone to speak on your behalf, and to ensure you are kept fully informed about all aspects of your treatment. You can contact your local mental health advocacy service as follows:-

See our Someone to speak on your behalf page for more information on advocacy.

MIND also runs an advocacy service for people who are in hospital. For more information on how you can benefit from advocacy, visit the advocacy pages on the MIND website.

When your hospital stay comes to an end, staff will organise a meeting to discuss the care you will receive after you leave. It is important that you try to be as involved in this as much as possible, because this will give you more choice over the services you use. You can ask an advocate to help you with this.

Depending on your situation the hospital team may refer you back to your GP to monitor your ongoing mental health with you.

If your mental health needs are more complex then you may be referred on to a specialist mental health recovery team who will provide longer-term support to you under what is known as the Care Programme Approach. The following websites provide good information on what happens under the Care Programme Approach:-

In some cases you may be supported in specialist accommodation where you will have your own flat, but where there will be staff available to check that you are okay, and to provide assistance to you when you need it.

Please see the Other information and Advice page for organisations and services that support people with experience of mental health issues. 

Last updated: 08/07/2021