Dementia Web - Dementia Information Resource for Oxfordshire

DementiaWeb - Dementia Information Resource for Oxfordshire

The Mental Health Act 1983 and Guardianship

How Might the Mental Health Act Affect Me?

The Mental Health Act 1983 is designed to protect people. A person can only be detained ("sectioned") under this Act if it is felt that their health is at risk, or that they pose a risk to themselves or others. Several specified people have to agree that the Section is necessary, and there are strict guidelines about how long someone can be detained for.


The Sections of the Mental Health Act that are probably most relevant for someone who has dementia are:

  • Section 2 :enables a person to be detained in hospital for an assessment period of up to 28 days.
  • Section 3 : enables a person to be detained in hospital for treatment, initially for six months. The Section may then be renewed for another six months, and after that for a year at a time.
  • Section 117 : requires statutory authorities to make arrangements for the continued care of a person who has been detained under Section 3. This care must be provided free of charge. An example of this would be when a person with dementia has been detained in hospital for treatment under Section 3 and is then discharged to a Nursing Home.

If you require information about detention under other Sections of the Act you may find the Mind outline guide to the Mental Health Act useful.


Under the Mental Health Act 1983 it is also possible for a court to appoint a Guardian for a person with a mental disorder, if this is necessary for the person's welfare or the welfare of others.

Usually the local authority is named as the Guardian, but in some cases a friend or relative could be appointed.

The Guardian has certain limited powers. For example the Guardian has the power to require the person to live at a specified place, but does not have the power to detain the person, or restrict his or her movements.

Further Information

The Alzheimer's Society Factsheet The Mental Health Act 1983 and Guardianship has more detailed information. : funded and managed by Guideposts with support from the Big Lottery Fund