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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

A Clinician's Brief Guide to the Mental Health Act (3rd edn)

Tony Zigmond

Price: £18.00

College members' price: £16.20

Published: Jun 2014

Format: Paperback

Number of pages: 160

ISBN: 9781909726246

A Clinician's Brief Guide to the Mental Health Act (3rd edn)

This is a 'how to' book guiding clinicians through the mental health legislation that they need to understand and use in their daily practice.  It includes practical advice on detaining and treating patients, civil and court detentions, community treatment orders, consent to treatment and giving written and oral evidence for Mental Health Tribunals.

As well as the Mental Health Act 1983 and its amendments of 2007 and 2012 (as a result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012), the book includes relevant aspects of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (including the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards).

The past two years have seen significant new case law that has a bearing on clinical decision-making, especially concerning the interface between the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act, and has aided clarification of deprivation of liberty. This third edition also includes: new statutory instructions for requirements to become section 12 and/or Approved Clinician approved and new guidance for applying for approval; and the amendments to the Mental Health Tribunal rules and directions for reports.


Tony Zigmond is a psychiatrist with many years’ experience of using the legislation in his clinical practice. The book is written using the language of clinicians and includes practical answers to many of the questions regularly asked of the author during the numerous training courses for section 12 approval and Approved Clinician training that he has given.


  • Written for clinicians – not lawyers!
  • An essential guide for all users of the Mental Health Act.
  • Practical advice and answers to real-life clinical questions.
  • Includes lists of which form is required for what purpose.
  • Readable and useful for everyday practice.


  1. Psychiatrists and other doctors wishing to be section 12 approved.
  2. Psychiatrists and other doctors wishing to become Approved Clinicians.
  3. All mental health professionals, in England and Wales, who use the provisions of the Mental Health Act (1983) in their clinical practice.

About the author:

Tony Zigmond is a Consultant Psychiatrist and former Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Leeds; he has been the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Lead on Mental Health Law and was a former Special Advisor to the Opposition in the House of Lords. 


"This is an excellent book from an author who is a recognised authority on mental health law and ethics. It is ambitious in trying to find a balance between covering the ground and remaining succinct and readable...the text is beautifully written. ...The author has produced a book that all mental health professionals would be advised to consider owning."

- British Journal of Hospital Medicine (on a previous edition)


Preface to the first edition
Preface to the second edition
Preface to the third edition
Common abbreviations and terms


  1. Setting the scene, statutory law and the common law
  2. The Human Rights Act in clinical practice
  3. Capacity: the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
  4. The Mental Health Act
  5. The Mental Health Act: Part II (civil sections)
  6. The Mental Health Act: Part III (sections relating to courts and prisons)
  7. Treatment Orders and Supervised Community Treatment
  8. The Mental Health Act: Part IV (consent to treatment)
  9. Appeals against detention/compulsion
  10. Special provisions in relation to minors
  11. How to become section 12 approved and/or an Approved Clinician


Appendix 1: Guidelines and forms for Wales
Appendix 2: Guidelines and forms for England



"It is exactly as described…its strengths include a focus on practical aspects of the operation of the Act together with its clarity, brevity and common-sense approach…it is easy to find one’s way around and the book deals with the sort of issues that arise in day-to-day practice for all of us. …One of the attractions is that in many of the chapters the relevant law is explored and then questions that might arise are posed and answered. …I suspect that this book will become a favourite, not only with busy, experienced clinicians, but particularly trainees. And so it should…here is a straightforward text written for doctors operating the law that can only serve to enhance their practice and in my view improve patient care.."

- The Psychiatrist (on a previous edition)


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The second edition was Highly Commended in the Psychiatry Category of the BMA Medical Book Awards 2013

“This is an excellent book from someone who is an established authority in this field. It successfully manages to cover essential material but also remain succinct and readable. This compact guide is well-laid-out with a clear and comprehendible structure. It is easy-to-use and appears to be up-to-date. It is relatively inexpensive at £18 and I can see it being useful.”
 - 2013 BMA Medical Book and Patient Information Awards: Programme and Awards Winners