Monitoring the Mental Health Act

Published: 21 March 2024 Page last updated: 21 March 2024

Monitoring the Mental Health Act is our annual report on the use of the Mental Health Act (MHA).

It looks at how providers are caring for patients, and whether patients' rights are being protected.

Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2022/23

The Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) is the legal framework that provides authority for hospitals to detain and treat people who have a mental illness and need protection for their own health or safety, or the safety of other people. The MHA also provides more limited community-based powers, community treatment orders and guardianship.

This report sets out our activity and findings from our engagement with people subject to the MHA and review of services registered to assess, treat and care for people detained using the MHA during 2022/23.

How we work

We have a duty under the MHA to monitor how services exercise their powers and discharge their duties when patients are detained in hospital or are subject to community treatment orders or guardianship. We visit and interview people currently detained in hospital under the MHA, and we require actions from providers when we become aware of areas of concern or areas that could improve. We also have specific duties under the MHA, such as to provide a second opinion appointed doctor (SOAD) service, review MHA complaints, and make proposals for changes to the Code of Practice.

As well as our MHA duties, we also work to highlight and seek action when we find practices that could lead to a breach of human rights standards during our MHA visits. This is part of our work as one of the 21 statutory bodies that form the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). The NPM carry out regular visits to places of detention to prevent torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Read the 2022/23 report