How do I get them sectioned?

I'm extremely worried about my brother's mental state. Not only do I think he needs medical help, but he's also becoming a danger to his child and pregnant girlfriend. Can I get him sectioned under the mental health act? It's the only way he'll get the help he needs.

It can be hard to support someone who is experiencing mental health issues, especially when the person you’re worried about doesn’t think – or realise – there is anything wrong.

Although it isn’t clear why your brother is experiencing difficulties it’s important to know that problems with relationships, work, money, and many other things can leave a person feeling emotionally and mentally unstable. There may be a loss of confidence and self-esteem. The person may also become frustrated, or unable to manage their emotions, or even become very isolated and depressed. However, sometimes people do just become ill and it isn’t possible to identify a reason.

The first step towards receiving treatment for any mental health issue is to approach a local doctor (GP). You may have done so already, but perhaps you could consider talking to your brother about doing this. Maybe if you or another family member offered to accompany him to the GP, for extra support, he may feel more comfortable about going. The GP’s job is to assess and help explore the support and treatment options available to the person in need. These might be in the form of medical treatment, such as antidepressants, or a talking treatment such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

People are only generally sectioned if they are presenting an immediate danger to themselves or others, or are in need of immediate, intensive treatment. It is possible to be referred for hospital treatment, but enter as an ‘informal’ patient on a voluntary basis. In this case a patient would not be subject to detention and would not be prevented from leaving if they wished. In addition, their consent would have to be obtained before treatment is given.

The process of being sectioned can be distressing for both the person in question and their family and friends, so it’s important you consider the options available before you try to go ahead with this process. If your brother does show signs of threatening behaviour and you or any member of your family feel in danger, you can call the police for assistance. Also, if you would like to learn more about how the local mental health system works and could provide assistance, you might like to contact your local community mental health team (CMHT).

This situation might be isolating for you and your family, including your brother, his girlfriend and child. Talking about it and how you are feeling as a family may be helpful and enable you to understand and support each other more effectively. You could also talk to a close friend about it; it can help to off-load feelings to someone outside the family.

If you don’t feel able to talk to anyone you know about what’s going on you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000. An advisor will be able to give you the time and space to talk about how you’re feeling, without judging you or telling you what to do.

Answered by SANE on 30-Oct-2013

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