• Please read the thread in Forum News and Announcements pertaining to race related discussion on SF - thank you :)

Questions about mental health in different countries

Not open for further replies.


Some kind of geek
SF Author
SF Supporter
I'm from the U.S., and sometimes I read posts that leave me confused by the mental health systems in different countries. (I only just found out what A&E stands for--d'oh!)

One of the questions I had was about the involvement of the police, especially in the U.K. From some posts here, I get the idea that some kind of arrest and temporary jail confinement is common for suicidal people. Is this true?

Also, I find myself surprised at how many suicidal people outside the U.S. seem to have very short hospital stays, like less than 48 hours. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but it seems like I've seen a few posts where that was the case. In the U.S., if you make a "serious" suicide attempt (as opposed to a humorous one? What does that even mean?), 99% sure you're going to be in the hospital for 72 hours at least. If you don't sign in voluntarily, they can commit you.

I had other questions, but those were the ones I was most curious about.
Hey, I'm from the UK and the experience I've had is that a psychiatrist, a doctor and a social worker came around to my home and gave me a mental health assessment, which is required for people who are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others, under the Mental Health Act. They decided I was at high risk, and gave me the option of either going into hospital voluntarily, or being admitted against my will - 'sectioned'. Another time, I had no option but to be sectioned. One time an ambulance car was called to take me to the psychiatric hospital, and another time I was taken in a police car. When there I had a physical examination and then just taken to my room. The minimal stay in a psychiatric hospital here is 72 hours, and you are assessed by a psychiatrist before you are allowed to be discharged. My stays have always been longer than that though. I've never heard of someone being under arrest (unless they have committed a crime, and then had to have a mental health assessment), or spend time in jail. It's just psychiatric hospitals. I may be wrong, but that's my experiences, and others in the UK that I know of.
Hey i'm from the uk also!
I think the bit where you talk about the police involvement is a Section 136. Which is basically where police have the power to remove someone suffering from mental health issues to a place of safety..this can be either a hospital or a police station.
If you are on a section 136 they cannot hold you on that for any longer than 72 hours, in which time you should be assessed by a doctor and then further treatment/care arrangements must be made...This could include being placed on a further section.

If you are to be sectioned theres a fair few you can be placed under other than section 136

Section 2 - This is up to 28 days. Its the period that the government allow for an indepth assessment. Rarely you are released before 28 days. You can be released after these 28 days, or you can be placed on a section three or you can stay informal (voluntary)

Section 3 - This is for up to 6 months initially. The section can be lifted at anytime and you can agree to stay informally or to be discharged. A section 3 can also be renewed at the end of the first 6 months for another 6 months. If after the second lot of 6 months, it is to be renewed again then it will last 12 months.

Section 4 - This section is an emergency assessment and can last for a maximum of 72 hours, however you can be placed on a different section.

Theres a few more sections you can be placed on aswell if you want me to go into these i will
Well, I am in Vietnam. Police has no role in suicidal issues. I was brought to hospital by my friends and I stayed there for 10 hours, until they were sure that I was not going to die that night. Then, they let me go home, all by myself. There is no rules in our country on suicidal.


Some kind of geek
SF Author
SF Supporter
Ah, that helps me understand some posts here. :)

in the U.S., I don't believe that there's any equivalent to the UK's Mental Health Act, although each state has its own laws. In a few states there's a thing called "involuntary outpatient commitment" where you can be wrestled down in your home and forced to take medication--I don't know if the police are routinely involved or not. My guess is not.

In my state, there is no involuntary outpatient commitment, and to force someone to stay in the hospital it takes two doctors' opinions. One has to be a psychiatrist. After that, you need to file civil commitment papers with a judge. I think they can keep you for 7 days until a judge renders a decision. If he says you have to stay, you keep having hearings to see if you are able to leave the hospital. I don't think there's any specific date on which they have to let you go. This seems to be the equivalent of the UK's section 1, 2, and 3.

If you call 911, the cops, the fire department, and an ambulance will show up, but the police will only try to capture you if they see you acting in a way that shows you cannot take care of yourself, and you refuse to go with them. I suppose each officer's definition of "unable to take care of yourself" is different, and some might have a very low tolerance for peculiar behavior. However, AFAIK very few people end up at the hospital in a police car.

That's why I was so surprised to hear so many people from the UK talk about police contact before they went to the hospital.
I've had police contact due to mental health issues..I spoke to an organisation called ChildLine, and during the conversation i mentioned my plan to kill myself. They contacted the police, the police got a warrant to track my IP And then turned up at my house at 1AM to see whether i had followed through with any stage of my plan, and to assess me seeing as it was out of hours for CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) and the only other way was to take me to A&E..However I was asleep, so they couldn't really assess me when I had just woken up. Also ChildLine didnt pass any information over to the police until a week after the incident where it was then within hours for CAMHS, and so once CAMHS had seen the chat logs (which i thought were confidentual!) It was a matter of going into hospital informal, or being sectioned. I went informal but the hospital I did go to i might as well have been sectioned - I couldn't discharge myself without being sectioned on a Section 5.2 (doctors power to section me whist in hospital for 72 hours whilst considering a section 3 unless i a) was suitable to be discharged or b) I agreed to stay informal.)


Some kind of geek
SF Author
SF Supporter
I'm sorry your experience was so miserable. :(

It seems like it would be a deterrent to calling any suicide help lines if they're just going to send the police. Why bother--you can call the police yourself if you feel you need them.

I'm very grateful that suicide hotlines in the U.S. just give you advice. Of course, I've never passed out on a suicide line to see if they'll call 911.
Not open for further replies.

Please Donate to Help Keep SF Running

Total amount