WHO Guide to Mental and Neurological Health in Primary Care
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Homepage :: Legal issues :: Use of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 :: Before the assessment

Before the assessment

Information is an important component of the assessment, including information about domestic, employment and social factors as well as a personís mental state.

  • If you can access your records, check for previous history and response to treatment, risk of neglect, violence or self-harm, and any known contact names.
  • If there is a relative or informant, ask about the recent situation, its duration, whether there is any support, whether there have been threats or violence and if the patient is known to carry or have access to weapons.
  • Contact the duty MHO. For Section 24, involvement of an MHO is desirable.
    For Section 18, involvement of an MHO is essential. They will need the following information: name, date of birth, address, reason for assessment, previous history, including name of keyworker, next of kin (if known) and past history of violence or self-harm (if known). They will need enough information to decide if there is the possibility of an admission under the Mental Health Act.
  • Liaise with the MHO about directions, access to premises, where to meet and the need for police attendance. It is good practice (because it is safer, communication is better and disruption of the patient is minimized) if the medical assessment(s) take place jointly with the MHO at the same agreed time. For Section 24, only one medical recommendation is needed; for Section 18, two are required. They can be provided up to five days apart.
  • If the patient is suffering from the short-term effect of drugs, alcohol or sedative medication, discussion should take place about deferring the assessment until a more productive interview can take place.
  • Take copies of form A (the emergency detention form) with you. If no copies of Form A are available, take practice headed notepaper if possible. 
  • If you want to discuss the management of the patient, either telephone the duty MHO or the duty consultant.

Last edited: 11/9/2003

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