I’m in hospital under a section. I want to leave. What are my rights?

There are times when healthcare professionals can keep someone in hospital and treat them without their agreement. This is always done in an individual’s best interests, when they can only be treated in hospital, and for their own safety or to protect others. It is carried out under the Mental Health Act, which explains the rules and your individual rights.


You’ve been sectioned (or ‘detained’) in hospital, you’ll have to stay there until doctors or a mental health tribunal are satisfied you can leave. (A mental health tribunal is a group of people who decide if you will continue to be detained.) You do have rights though, under the Mental Health Act. These include knowing what section of the Act you’ve been detained under, and the option to appeal your section. You should also get a copy of your sectioning papers.

Download the Mental Health Act factsheet



You’re detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act, you have a legal right to see a specialist advocate. They can help you understand your situation, talk through your options, do what they can to make sure your views are heard, and support you in making decisions. They can help you plan your care, accompany you to tribunal meetings, and get the right help when you leave.

Read more about detainment under the Mental Health Act

The role of an advocate

An advocate can stand by you, and stand up for you, when important decisions are being made about your care, treatment and the way you live your life. They can help you understand your rights and options, and support you when expressing your views and wishes to others.

Read more about the role of an advocate

Self-help resources

Get support for yourself, a family member or someone you care for.

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