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Mental Health Act 1983

The Mental Health Act 1983 received royal assent on 9 May 1983. The Act gave the state powers to detain, assess and treat people with severe mental health problems.

Section 117 of the Act required district health authorities and social services to provide aftercare services (including accommodation) to those moving back into the community after being discharged from compulsory hospital stays. This was a joint duty on the NHS and local authorities, which were to provide services for as long as they were needed.

This section has been subject to some controversy concerning the extent to which it compelled local authorities to provide services such as free residential accommodation to those who met the criteria. The provision of residential accommodation under the National Assistance Act 1948 for disabled or other people in need was subject to charges.

The Mental Health Act Commission was also set up under the Mental Health Act 1983. The commission's functions included:

  • continually reviewing the operation of the Mental Health Act
  • gathering information about the experiences of patients detained under the Act
  • investigating complaints
  • reporting to Parliament.

The commission was abolished by the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and its functions were assumed by the Care Quality Commission.


Mental Health Act 1983.