Mental Health Aftercare – A Guide

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After being sectioned (detained for treatment in a psychiatric hospital), the mental health aftercare you may need when you leave hospital should be provided free of charge.

This free 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 free 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.

Section 117 aftercare

Rethink Mental Illness have a factsheet that explains if you can get free after-care under section 117 (pronounced ‘one-one-seven’) of the Mental Health Act 1983. It explains what services you might get and when your care will end.

  • After-care’ means the help you get when you leave hospital.
  • You are entitled to section 117 after-care if you have been in hospital under section 3, 37, 45A, 47 or 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
  • Section 117 means that you will get free after-care when you leave hospital.
  • The NHS and social services will give you after-care.
  • Your illness might affect you in different ways. The NHS and social services call these things your ‘needs’.
  • Your after-care will help you with your ‘needs’. You may get specialist housing, help to meet other people, help with work or education and free prescriptions for mental health medication.
  • Your after-care might be dealt with under The Care Programme Approach (CPA).
  • Your after-care should only stop when you do not need any more help from the NHS or social services.
  • If you have any problems or questions, talk to your care coordinator or your other contacts in the NHS or social services. An advocate might be able to help you do this. If this does not work, you could think about making a complaint or getting help from a solicitor

Factsheet and more information click here.

Ending aftercare

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: