Why am I in Hospital?

Why am I here?

You are in hospital because people in your life were concerned about your mental health and wanted to see you get well again. It may be your parents who were worried about you or other people who thought it would be a good idea for you to come and stay here or you may have decided together with your parents that you wanted to go into hospital.

While in hospital, you will get the support you need to help you recover and return home. All the young people at your unit will be in a similar situation. They too will be ordinary young people who are at the unit to receive care and treatment or have an assessment of their needs. Some may need more treatment or staff support than others, but no one has less right to treatment or should be treated as less important than anyone else. The care and treatment you get in hospital is similar to that you get as an outpatient except it is more intensive.

You will be in hospital as either a voluntary patient or a detained child (by order of the Court), and we explain the difference between those types of patient further down.

It is likely that you will be in a unit that is specifically for young people, but not always. This is something that will depend on your age. In some circumstances it may be that you are on an adult unit, this could be because of your mental health condition or because there are no beds available in a young persons’ unit. We will advise you about what should happen if you are on an adult unit later in the Toolkit, and you can use Power Tool 2 to get answers.

What is a voluntary patient?

If you are in hospital because someone with responsibility for you (such as your parents or guardian) agreed to it then the law considers you to be a ‘voluntary patient’. Most of the young people you meet will be there as voluntary patients.

The word ‘voluntary’ may seem a little strange if you have not agreed to being admitted but according to the law your admission is voluntary if you are under 18 and your parents agreed to it. As a voluntary patient the length of time you are in hospital will depend on what treatment you are having and how well this is working. Once it is considered you are no longer needing inpatient care you will be discharged, but there is no time limit on how long that can take. Alternatively your parent or guardian may take you out of hospital. If your parents or guardians wanted to take you out of hospital, but the doctor or nurse did not think that you are well enough to leave, you may be detained. You can be detained for up to 3 days whilst an application to detain you for longer is made to the District Court. There is more detail about this a bit later in the Toolkit.

What does it mean to be a detained child?

This is when you are admitted to hospital by an order of the Court. You may be detained because it is considered that you are so unwell that you need to be in hospital for your own good or protection, or the protection of others. If you are detained, you will have been diagnosed as having a mental disorder.

It is up to the Court or the doctor to decide when you are ready to leave hospital. Your doctor will tell the Court how you are getting on. There are however certain time limits on how long you can be detained for. There is more information about what it means to have a mental disorder and being detained later in the Toolkit.

Can I choose whether to be admitted or not?

As explained earlier, as a voluntary patient the decision about whether you will be admitted will be made by someone who has responsibility for you, such as a parent or guardian. It is for them to decide, with the advice of the doctor, how long you stay in hospital. Hopefully you agreed along with your parents to coming into hospital, if you are not happy about your admission, you should talk with a member of your team or someone you trust about this. Power Tool 3 can help you find out more about why you are in hospital.

If you have been diagnosed by a doctor as having a mental disorder, it will be up to the Court to decide if you are admitted as a detained child. How that process works is described later in the Toolkit.

The Mental Health Act says that, no matter what age you are, your views should be taken into consideration when a decision about your mental health care and treatment is being made.