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Monday, 27 June 2011

Mental health assessments

To make sure you get the most appropriate treatment you may have a mental health assessment. Assessments can range from talking to your doctor in their surgery or at your home to a hospital appointment with a specialist.

Your doctor (GP)

Usually all assessments start with your doctor. Your doctor will make a diagnosis and consider any medication that would be appropriate for you. The doctor could also refer you to a specialist - for example a counsellor - where a further assessment would be made about any therapies that might help.

Your visit is confidential - the doctor will not tell any member of your family, friends or anyone else what you talk about.

Emergency assessments

If you are in danger of harming yourself or others and you are refusing treatment, an emergency assessment may be necessary. This is when two doctors and an approved mental health worker make the assessment.

The assessment may lead to admitting you to hospital against your will, under the Mental Health Act 1983. This is often known as 'being sectioned'. It is important to note that this is rare.

There are three main ways of having an emergency assessment:

  • by going to the accident and emergency (A&E) department at a local hospital
  • by telephoning the emergency number at the social services department of your local council  
  • if the police take you to a place of safety

This type of assessment is to make sure that you get the support and care you need and that you do not harm yourself or anyone else.

A review will take place three months after you are first admitted. If necessary, you will be asked if you give your permission for the treatment to continue. If you refuse permission, a second independent doctor, known as a second opinion appointed doctor or SOAD, will be asked to confirm that the care should continue against your will.

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