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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 (4th edn)

Tony Zigmond and Nick Brindle

Price: £18.00

College members' price: £16.20

Published: Jul 2016

Format: Paperback

Number of pages: 126

ISBN: 9781909726628

A Clinician's Brief Guide to the Mental Health Act (4th 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 lawfully, civil and court detentions, community treatment orders, consent to treatment, giving written and oral evidence for Mental Health Tribunals and the statutory instructions for requirements to become section 12 and/or Approved Clinician approved. 

As well as the Mental Health Act 1983 and its amendments of 2007, 2012 and 2014 (resulting from the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the Care Act 2014), the book includes relevant aspects of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (including the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards). 


This fourth edition covers significant new case law from the past two years and the revised Mental Health Act Code of Practice and revised Reference Guide; these now contain more emphasis on human rights and equality. 


Both authors are psychiatrists with many years’ experience of using the legislation in their clinical practice. The book is written using the language of clinicians and includes practical answers to many of the questions regularly asked of Tony Zigmond 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.

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"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)

About the authors:
Dr Tony Zigmond – Consultant Psychiatrist and retired Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Leeds. He is also a former Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Lead on Mental Health Law and was a Special Advisor to the Opposition in the House of Lords.
Dr Nick Brindle – Old Age Consultant Psychiatrist, The Mount (Mental Health Centre), Leeds.  He is also an established trainer in mental health law topics and is lead author for A Clinician’s Brief Guide to the Mental Capacity Act.


Preface to the first edition
Preface to the second edition
Preface to the third edition
Preface to the fourth 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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A Clinician’s Brief Guide to the Mental Capacity Act (2nd edn)
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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