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Approved Mental Health Professionals Service

The Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP) Service carries out assessments under the Mental Health Act 1983.

The AMHP service responds to referrals 24 hours a day, 365 days per year

AMHPs may be:

  • social workers
  • nurses
  • occupational therapists
  • psychologists

who have gained an additional qualification which allows them to undertake the AMHP role.

AMHPs are able to make an application under a section of the Mental Health Act to detain a person in hospital for a period of assessment or treatment. Most of Dudley’s AMHPs are social workers, but we do have one nurse AMHP.

When a Mental Health Act (MHA) assessment might be needed

An assessment under the MHA may be arranged when a person is thought to be suffering from a mental disorder and is considered to pose a risk to themselves or others.

Prior to requesting a MHA assessment, consideration should be given to whether there may be other ways to support the person. This could be:

  • input from a Community Mental Health Team or Crisis Team
  • a review of social care needs
  • family support
  • help from a GP

The purpose of the assessment is to consider whether it is necessary to detain a person in hospital under a section of the MHA.

A person will only be detained under the MHA if:

  • their care and treatment can no longer be provided safely in the community, and
  • they are unwilling or unable to agree to go into hospital, or stay in hospital, voluntarily

A person may need to have an MHA assessment if:

  • There is a rapid and serious deterioration in their mental health, or
  • There is a gradual decline over a longer period which has reached a critical point, and
  • The person or those around them are at significant risk of harm as a result of their current mental health needs

How to make a referral to the AMHP service

To make a referral for a Mental Health Act Assessment please call 01384 814400 this number is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Please be aware we cannot take referrals for assessments via email currently. We do have a referral form that will be used via a portal in the future.

After the referral is made

Various professionals can request a Mental Health Act assessment. For example, a psychiatrist, GP, care co-ordinator, social worker, nurse, or a police officer.

A 'Nearest Relative' can also ask the AMHP service to consider a referral, under Section 13(4) of the Mental Health Act. Please note that a Nearest Relative is defined by S26 of the Mental Health Act 1983 and is not always the same person as the 'next of kin'.

It is expected that you contact a GP or community mental health team first before contacting the AMHP Service. There are also voluntary agencies that may be useful sources of support.

Once a referral is received by the AMHP service, the AMHP on duty will screen the referral to ensure that a MHA assessment is appropriate. The AMHP will contact the referrer to discuss the circumstances in more detail.

The AMHP will check whether other ways of helping the person with their mental health have been tried first. These might prevent the need to use the MHA. For example, involving a crisis team or arranging for a review of the person's social care needs.

If a MHA assessment is appropriate, the AMHP will arrange or coordinate the assessment.

Referrals are prioritised based on a risk assessment and the needs of the person or others.

The Assessment

AMHPs undertake MHA assessments alongside authorised doctors. A MHA assessment may take place:

  • at the home address
  • in a hospital (if the person is already an inpatient)
  • in an A&E department
  • or other place of safety

An important part of the AMHP role is to make sure all alternatives to detaining someone in hospital have been considered. The AMHP will consult with professionals involved in the person's care as well as speaking to family members and carers to seek their views, to help them decide whether an application to detain someone should be made.

The AMHP will attempt to speak to the person's nearest relative. There are some instances where a person's nearest relative can object to the AMHP making an application to detain the person in hospital, so their views are very important.

During the assessment the AMHP will make sure that the person being assessed is fully informed about what is happening. The AMHP will make sure the person is able to participate as fully as they can in the assessment and that their views and wishes are listened to. Family members or carers can also be present if the person being assessed wants them to be.

The AMHP and doctors will ask the person some questions to help them understand what the person is going through and how best to help them. The AMHP and doctors will try to establish whether the person is suffering from a mental disorder and whether any risks mean that hospital admission is necessary.

After the assessment

The AMHP will explain the outcome of the assessment to the person being assessed.

If a decision is made to detain the person in hospital the AMHP will make sure the person understands the reasons for this decision and what this means.

The AMHP will talk to the person about their legal rights under the Mental health Act (MHA).

The AMHP will inform the nearest relative of the outcome of the assessment. They will explain the reasons for the decision and the nearest relative's rights under the MHA.

Where hospital admission is necessary, the doctor will contact the NHS Mental Health Trust's bed management team to request that a bed be identified. The bed management team will inform the AMHP of the hospital where the bed has been identified.

Once a bed is confirmed the AMHP can complete their application to detain the person to that hospital. The AMHP will make arrangements for the admission and for the most appropriate transport to the hospital.

Throughout this process the AMHP will consider any risks to the person or to others and will ensure the person is treated with dignity and respect.

Information and support

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s mental health, your first port of call will often be a GP. Talk to your doctor, who may refer you to services provided in the community or to more specialised, secondary care mental health care and support.

Mental health services for Dudley are provided by Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust provides specialist mental health, learning disability and community healthcare services for people across the Black Country.

Other options

Use the NHS 111 online help service or phone NHS 111 if you need urgent help for your mental health but it’s not an emergency. For example, if you need medication or a prescription and you're unable to contact your GP.

For urgent help call the Black Country Mental Health Helpline and speak to a qualified mental health professional. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it's open to all ages. Call 0800 008 6516.

Face to face support is available out of hours at Dudley Sanctuary Hub, DY1 Community Centre, Stafford Street, Dudley, DY1 1SA. Available Monday to Friday, 6pm-11pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 12pm-11pm.

Other support available

Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: jo@samaritans.org for a reply within 24 hours.

Text "SHOUT" to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text "YM" if you're under 19.

If you're under 19, you can call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill