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We produce service user and carer leaflets to explain our role, help people understand their rights, and to promote best practice in the use of mental health and incapacity law.

When I was unwell, I didn't understand that I needed treatment. Now I feel much better, I can see it was the best option.

Can I be forced to have treatment?

If you become unwell with a mental illness, you may need treatment. Sometimes, when people are unwell, they are unwilling or unable to give consent to treatment.

In some cases, you may be given treatment even if you do not want it. This is called compulsory treatment.

There are strict rules about when this can happen. The rules are different for different types of treatment and situations.

You can be given treatment without your consent in an emergency, if it is urgent.

In some cases, you may be detained in hospital, or 'sectioned'.

For some types of treatment, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or artificial nutrition, there are special rules requiring a second opinion from a specially trained doctor: a designated medical practitioner (DMP). These treatments have safeguards

If you need long-term treatment, you may be subject to a compulsory treatment order.

The law contains safeguards to protect your rights. For example, you have a right to appeal against being detained, and compulsory treatment orders must be approved by a tribunal.

You can also consider writing an advance statement, explaining the sort of treatment you would like to receive. This will be taken into account if you need treatment in future.

Physical force

Most people will understand that compulsory treatment means they do not have a choice. In some cases, it may be necessary to use physical force.

If you are in hospital for compulsory treatment:

  • force can only be used if necessary.

If you are in your own home:

  •   force cannot be used to give you treatment.

If you are on a compulsory treatment order in the community:

  •  you can be taken to hospital and force can be used.

If you are unhappy about the use of force in your treatment, you can complain. Your named person or independent advocate can help you.

Under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act, people with learning disabilities and/or a mental illness have a right to independent advocacy. Find out more about it here.

You may find it helpful to write an advance statement when you are well, stating how you would like to be treated if you become ill in the future. Find out more here.