If you have been sectioned (detained for treatment in a psychiatric hospital), any mental health aftercare you may need when you leave hospital should be provided free of charge.
This aftercare is given to try to prevent your mental health condition from getting worse and to avoid needing to be re-admitted to hospital.
Who is eligible for mental health aftercare?
You have a right to mental health aftercare when you have been:
- compulsorily detained in hospital under section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983
- sentenced by a criminal court to detention in a psychiatric hospital
- transferred to psychiatric hospital from prison
How to get mental health aftercare
If you're eligible for aftercare, your needs will be assessed before you're discharged from hospital.
You will receive a care plan that sets out the services you will receive.
What does aftercare include?
Aftercare can include almost anything that helps you live in the community, such as:
- help with specialised accommodation
- social care support
- day centre facilities
- recreational activities
The care plan may make arrangements for housing needs, particularly if you are likely to be homeless when you're discharged from hospital or can't return home for some reason.
The accommodation provided may be in supported housing, such as a hostel.
If you need services from a wide range of providers, you should be assessed under the Care Programme Approach and a named person should act as your care co-ordinator.
Aftercare may be withdrawn if social services or the relevant healthcare organisation believe you no longer need it. However, the organisations must reassess your needs before reaching that conclusion. They also must provide reasons for their decision.
If you have significant mental health problems, you may be able to argue that you're at risk of needing re-admission to hospital. In such a case, your aftercare will continue.
Even if you're no longer eligible for aftercare, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be withdrawn. A financial assessment will be carried out to decide whether you have to contribute to the costs.
How to complain about mental health aftercare
You or your carer may believe you're being incorrectly charged for aftercare services that should be provided free.
This is a complex area, and it's best to get legal advice if you think it may apply to you or the person you're looking after:
- Citizens Advice gives free legal advice – call the helpline on 03444 111 444 or find your nearest Citizens Advice
- Age UK may be able to help if you're an older person or caring for an older person – call the helpline on 0800 169 6565
- check if you can get free legal aid at GOV.UK