Under the Mental Health Act we all have a nearest relative who will be involved in decisions about whether we are hospitalised. We do not get to choose our nearest relative.

If you or your nearest relative are both unhappy about them taking on this role, they can write a letter naming another individual to act as your nearest relative. They should inform at least one of your doctors or other people responsible for your care.

Your nearest relative has several powers and responsibilities:

  • They can apply for you to be admitted to hospital.
  • The approved social worker must tell the nearest relative if they have applied (or are applying) for you to be detained under section 2.
  • The approved social worker must talk to the nearest relative if they plan to detain you under section 3 (unless it is not practical to do this or would cause unreasonable delay). Your nearest relative can object to the application to detain you. However the approved social worker can ask the court to appoint someone else as your nearest relative if the objection is unreasonable.
  • Your nearest relative can apply for you to be discharged from hospital. However the doctor in charge of the treatment can stop this.