People with Mental Health Problems
If you become unwell with a mental illness, you may need treatment. Sometimes, when people are very unwell, they are unable or unwilling to consent to treatment.
In some cases if you are unwell you may be given treatment that is considered to be in your best interest, although at that time you did not want it. The Mental Health Act has been developed to make sure people are treated in the most appropriate way at all times.
You may find it helpful to write an Advance Statement when you are well, stating how you would like to be treated if you become ill in future. Anyone who makes decisions about your treatment, like doctors or a Tribunal, should read your Advance Statement and consider your wishes.
An Advance Statement is not a guarantee that your wishes will be followed, but it is a guarantee that they will be taken into account. An Advance Statement should be witnessed and signed by a health or care professional.
It's a good idea to review your Advance Statement every 6 or 12 months to make sure it's up to date.
If you need treatment under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 you can choose someone to act in your interest. This person is called a Named Person and they can make important decisions about your care if you are unable to decide yourself. You can choose your own Named Person but not a professional involved in your care. If you don't choose, a carer or relative becomes your Named Person.
Welfare Guardianship refers to a court appointed guardian who can make decisions on behalf of any adult who has been assessed as "lacking capacity". This assessment is carried out by a doctor who has deemed that the adult is unable to make decisions about their own welfare. The Guardian is permitted to make decisions about various welfare issues, including where a person lives, as well as their personal and medical care. Welfare Guardianship differs from Power of Attorney in that the order is granted after the adult has been assessed as lacking capacity; the adult does not instruct the appointment of the Guardian. A Welfare Guardian can be a relative, friend, carer or even the local authority. The law that sets out the role and responsibilities of guardians is the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.
What does mental capacity mean?
Mental capacity is the ability to make decisions for yourself about a particular matter. Having "capacity" means having the ability to understand and retain information relating to the decision, understanding the consequences of any choice you make, taking that information into account, and being able to communicate your wishes.