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Homepage :: Legal issues :: Use of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 :: Use of the Mental Health Act

Use of the Mental Health Act

Compulsory admission can only occur when:

  • there is a mental disorder; and
  • the patient requires hospital admission in the interest of the health or safety of the patient or the protection of others; and
  • such admission cannot be achieved without compulsory measures.

The Act allows the compulsory admission of a patient who is very distressed or ill (e.g. actively psychotic or manic) solely in order to improve their health, even if they are not thought to be at immediate risk of harming themselves or others.

Mental disorder comprises mental illness, mental impairment, severe mental impairment and persistent disorder manifested only by persistent abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct. In the Act, mental illness is not defined but is a matter for clinical judgement, but it excludes those for reasons only of promiscuity or other ‘immoral’ conduct, sexual deviancy, or dependence on alcohol or drugs (although psychiatric symptoms secondary to drug and alcohol abuse - for example drug-induced paranoid psychosis and Korsakoff psychosis - are included). Mental disorder manifested only by mental impairment or only by abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct might be grounds for detention under Section 18 only where treatment in hospital is likely to alleviate or prevent a deterioration in the patient's condition.

Last edited: 12/1/2004

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