Approved Mental Health Professionals

Approved mental health professionals (AMHPs) are trained to carry out duties under the Mental Health Act and are guided by the Mental Health Act Code of Practice.

Our team can include social workers, mental health nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists; all who have undertaken postgraduate training to become Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs).

We will ensure that during any Mental Health Act assessment, we respect your privacy and dignity and ensure that your individual circumstances are considered, including social factors impacting on your mental health.

Contact us
The AMHP Hub

Gloucestershire County Council is responsible for the provision of the Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) Service which is delivered by Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

We are a 24-hour service and we are on-hand to take referrals, give advice, to consider whether a Mental Health Act Assessment is appropriate and to identify any other less restrictive options.

In an emergency, contact the relevant emergency service in the first instance.

Mental Health Act Assessments

A Mental Health Act Assessment is like other types of assessment because it focuses on your individual needs and how to help. The key difference is that the professionals will consider whether or not to use legal powers under the Mental Health Act (1983) for you to be admitted to hospital.

The assessment will involve the AMHP and usually two doctors, who will ask questions to find out your views and wishes. We will do our best to involve a doctor who you know, and we will consult others closely involved in your care.

Each professional involved in the assessment is independent. In order to detain you into hospital both doctors firstly need to decide and formally recommend that this is the right outcome. We will then decide whether to make a formal application to the chosen available hospital.

We have the legal power to ‘convey’ or transport you to hospital under the Mental Health Act.

Assessment under the Mental Health Act

If you have a mental health problem you may be offered a mental health assessment to decide what services can do to help. This may be completed by a range of professionals such as the Crisis Team or Recovery Team.

In some circumstances this may lead to an assessment under the Mental Health Act (1983). This is called a Mental Health Act Assessment.

About the Mental Health Act

The Mental Health Act describes how you can be treated if you have a mental disorder and states your rights. It allows professionals to assess and decide how they can most effectively support you in the least restrictive way. This means our service will work with you and will always consider trying to support you at home, where possible.

The Act provides healthcare professionals with the powers to detain you in hospital without your consent if this is in the interests of your health or protection or for the protection of others.

Being detained under this Act is sometimes called being ‘sectioned’, because the law has different sections. Section 2 is for an assessment and means you can be detained in hospital for up to 28 days. Section 3 is for treatment and you can be detained in hospital for up to six months at first.

If I have a Mental Health Act Assessment, does this mean I have to go to hospital?

Not necessarily. During the Mental Health Act Assessment, we will check if there are any appropriate less-restrictive alternatives to hospital, such as community treatment and carer support. Alternatively, voluntary admission could be offered if it is felt that you can consent to this.

Your nearest relative

The ‘nearest relative’ is a legal term used in the Mental Health Act. It is not the same as your next of kin. We will ask questions about your family members to identify who your nearest relative is.

As part of the Mental Health Act Assessment process, we have a duty to inform or consult your nearest relative depending on the outcome of the assessment.

Your nearest relative has certain rights under the Mental Health Act and therefore serves as an important safeguard. The nearest relative can request that we consider undertaking a Mental Health Act Assessment. If we do not progress with an assessment following this request, the nearest relative should be notified of this decision (in writing) to explain why this decision has been made.

The nearest relative has the right to be informed of Section 2 application and has the right to object to making a Section 3 application.
The nearest relative can also write to the hospital to request your discharge. This request is then considered by the consultant psychiatrist responsible for your care.

Your rights under the Mental Health Act

If the decision is to detain you under the Mental Health Act, we will inform you of the section used and will explain your legal rights. We may also provide you with an information leaflet to explain your rights, and these rights will also be explained by hospital staff.

You should also be given information on:

  • how to make a complaint
  • how to apply for a tribunal hearing
  • how to get the help of an advocate
  • how to get legal advice.
Place of Safety Assessments

Place of Safety Assessments are 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.

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

Can I complain about a Mental Health Act Assessment?

If you have any concerns about the process of an assessment, contact our Patient and Carer Experience Team.

Please be aware that a complaint will not allow us to reconsider the decision to use the Mental Health Act. You can appeal against your ongoing detention under the Mental Health Act through a Tribunal Hearing. The hospital can support you with this process.

What do you think of our AMHP service?

Are you happy with the quality of care you have received?

Let us know, so we can improve the service we provide to our patients and service users by completing our Friends and Family Test here>

If you would like to discuss your feedback in more detail, please contact the Patient and Carer Experience Team via email: