Although I have been mentally ill all of my life, particularly for the past five years, I have been lucky enough to avoid hospitalisation thus far. For those who suffer from a mental illness, particularly psychotic disorders, may feel that hospitalisation seems fairly inevitable. However, this is not necessarily the case, but it is something that we should all think and educate ourselves about at some point. As these are the types of things that you need to prepare for and be aware of, in case you do ever end up in the position where you are being hospitalised.
This article is specific to the UK, however, most of the information provided in this article will apply to those who live in the UK and the US; although there will be differences in the process of being detained within the US.
When and Why You Could Be Detained
Within the UK you will most likely only be detained if you are an immediate danger to yourself or others. There is a huge lack of beds and services available for mental health patients, which is why being hospitalised is a rather unlikely occurrence. However, this doesn’t mean that it does not happen, and there are more reasons other than being an immediate danger to yourself or others that could get you hospitalised.
Your doctor or psychiatrist may feel that you need to be admitted to hospital for a short amount of time in order for further assessment. This may also be the case if your doctor believes that there is no safe way to treat you at home, or if more intensive support is needed than what is currently being provided at home.
What Happens When You Are Detained and What to Expect
Typically, your doctor or psychiatrist will ask you if you are willing to be admitted to a hospital voluntarily; if you agree to this, you will still be placed under a 72 hour hold, after this you can request to be discharged. If you’re doctor does not believe that you are well enough to be discharged, you may be sectioned and held with or without your permission. If you do not agree with being admitted to a hospital voluntarily, you will be admitted involuntarily. Therefore if you are presented with the option of being admitted voluntarily I would recommend doing so as you are more likely to be discharged at an earlier date than if you were to be admitted involuntarily.
Once you are under the care of the hospital, you cannot be discharged unless your doctor believes you are healthy enough to be released. This means that if you require a stay longer than 72 hours, you may be sectioned, however, you will still have the option to remain within the hospital voluntarily, which will not require you to be sectioned.
If you are sectioned, this means that you are being detained in a hospital under the Mental Health Act of 1983; this is the law that applies to both England and Wales which allows people to be detained in a hospital if they are suffering from mental health issues which require them to need hospital treatment. When you have been sectioned, you may be kept in a hospital and be given treatment without your consent.
What You Can Bring
– Books, notepads and journals
– MP3 Player / iPod (if permitted by the hospital)
When you arrive at the hospital you will be searched upon entry, and so will those who visit you. This is to ensure that any dangerous items such as razorblades, rope, pills, or anything that you can hurt yourself with will not be within your access. Some items such as mirrors or deodorant spray may be stored in a locker which only the hospital staff have access to. The hospital in which you are detained will let you know what you can and cannot bring onto the ward, as each hospital may have different regulations.
It is important to remember that each and every hospital and experience will be different, and so will the patients experiences within these facilities.
If you are detained or sectioned within a hospital, you have the following rights:
– Appealing against your section to the Mental Health Tribunal
– Seeing a copy of the Mental Health Act Code of Practise
– Receive support from and have access to an IMHA (Independent Mental Health Advocate)
– Viewing your sectioning papers
– Asking for a meeting with the hospitals managers
– Asking for information about your sectioning, rights, treatment, and receiving correspondence in the hospital
– Some telephone access
– To complain to the CQC (Care Quality Commission) or the Healthcare Inspectorate if you are a resident of Wales
How to Avoid Being Detained
Sometimes, being detained or sectioned within a hospital is necessary, however, sometimes it is not and it is best to be avoided. I only recommend avoiding being detained if you are not a danger to yourself or others.
In order to avoid being detained, you must simply make it clear that you are not an immediate danger to yourself and others, and that you have adequate support at home and within the community. You will only be detained or sectioned if your problems and the circumstances which you are under are severe or if they could lead to dangerous behaviour.