6: Completing a Mental Health Act assessment

In this chapter we will consider the stages that are involved in progressing an MHA assessment from initial referral through to the differing outcomes that arise. These stages include an exploration of the information that an AMHP will need to seek, collect, analyse and weigh up before an MHA assessment is progressed, as well as establishing what risks are being communicated to the AMHP, and considering what outcomes others are seeking, to ensure that advancing an MHA referral is justifiable.

This chapter needs to be read alongside the MHA, the relevant case law, the MHA Codes of Practice and the Reference Guide, as it is not attempting primarily to be a ‘law chapter’ (although it does consider key legal provisions). Instead, this chapter seeks to map the process that an AMHP is likely to face and advise how to approach it, using practice wisdom gathered from wide sources.

Links will be made to Chapter 7 when considering the risks and challenges in MHA assessments.

This chapter includes:

  • taking the MHA assessment referral;

  • the MHA assessment;

  • resourcing the MHA assessment;

  • the MHA assessment interview;

  • the decision and outcome of the MHA assessment; and

  • the post-assessment requirements.

The reason we have divided the chapter into these subsections is to reflect the differing, but interrelated moments of AMHP work. In a qualitative study exploring the work of the AMHP’s predecessors, Approved Social Workers (ASWs), Quirk describes these subsections as: the build-up to the assessment, the assessment and the aftermath (Quirk, 2008). Each requires different skills and knowledge, but all are interlinked if robust practice is to be adhered to.

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