Approved Mental Health Professionals

Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) are people who have been approved to carry out certain duties under the Mental Health Act. These duties are often carried out in addition to their ‘day job’, which could be as a nurse, occupational therapist, social worker or psychologist, for example.

AMHPs are responsible for coordinating assessment and admission to hospital if a person is sectioned. They also work to help identify alternatives to compulsory admission.

Their duties include coordinating:

  • Place of Safety assessments – Decisions around people who have been removed to a place of safety by the police under section 135 or 136 of the Mental Health Act, along with a doctor.

These assessments may then involve the second kind of situation:

  • Mental Health Act (MHA) assessments – decisions about whether a person will be offered inpatient hospital care, either on a voluntary or statutory basis. These decisions will involve one or two doctors depending on the kind of MHA assessment.

AMHPs can also apply for Mental Health Act warrants under s135(1), if someone is to be removed from a private residence and taken for an assessment.

If someone who is already detained is missing (AWOL) from hospital and needs to be returned for their safety and treatment, a member of the hospital staff, or another person authorised by the hospital managers, can complete the application for the warrant. AMHPs may be able to provide advice but do not have to be the applicant.

An important part of the role of an AMHP is the ability to make legal decisions whilst also promoting the autonomy of the individual, and safeguarding the person, their family and the wider public. They need to ensure the person is aware of their rights, treated with respect and dignity and has access to an advocate.

Generally the AMHPs would not pursue a Mental Health Act Assessment unless the person has already been seen by a secondary mental health service such as the crisis team.

AMHPs can often find themselves working at all hours of the day and night, detaining people to a place of safety, and then finding beds with the involvement and resources of other agencies and professionals. AMHPs will often work with the police as well as other health professionals.

Find out more about The Maxwell Suite, our Place of Safety in Gloucestershire.