Section 117 aftercare is the free help and support you get from the NHS, and from social services, after your stay in hospital under certain sections of the Mental Health Act.
Aftercare can help you stay well and avoid returning to hospital.
Are you entitled to section 117 aftercare?
You are only entitled to section 117 aftercare if:
- you have been in hospital under sections 3, 37, 45A, 47 or 48 of the Mental Health Act.
- you are discharged from hospital on a community treatment order (CTO).
Support is still available if you have been in hospital under other sections of the Mental Health Act. We will discuss this with you before you leave.
What is included in my section 117 aftercare?
Your aftercare can include, but is not limited to:
- Free prescriptions for mental health medication
- Specialist housing
- Help with employment or education
- Help to meet other people to support your social, cultural or spiritual need
Planning your section 117 aftercare
Planning your aftercare should begin soon after your admission so we can ensure all arrangements are in place when you are discharged.
A section 117 aftercare meeting will be arranged to which you and, if you wish, your family or carer will be invited to discuss the aftercare that will help you to stay well.
The clinical team who has looked after you, your care co-ordinator, and representatives from social care will attend the meeting.
The meeting will be a chance for you to discuss what kind of support you need to stay well.
If you want, you can get support from an independent mental health advocate (IMHA) for your section 117 aftercare planning. Speak to your clinical team and they will arrange this for you.
A care plan will be written identifying the support and services you will receive, and state who will be responsible for providing these.
A copy of this care plan will be offered to you, and if you wish, your family and carers.
What happens if I stay in hospital?
Aftercare services only start when you leave hospital.
You could be discharged from your section 3, 27, 45A, 47 or 48 and stay in hospital as an informal in-patient.
If this happens, do not worry, you still get free aftercare when you leave hospital.
Who will make sure my section 117 aftercare happens?
The NHS and social services have a legal duty to make sure section 117 aftercare services are available for you.
The people identified as responsible for each service at the aftercare planning meeting have a duty to ensure that your care plan is in place by the time you are discharged from hospital.
When you are in the community receiving section 117 aftercare, this should be regularly reviewed by your clinical team.
You and, if you wish, your family or carer will be invited to join these review meetings so you can share your views and explain how you are progressing in the community.
When does section 117 aftercare end?
Your aftercare should only end when you no longer need help related to your mental health from the NHS or social services.
You can still be entitled to aftercare when you are doing well as you may need it to help you stay well and stop you going back to hospital.
To end your section 117 aftercare both the NHS and social services must agree that you no longer need aftercare services.
Before this happens, a review meeting will take place with yourself, representatives from both the NHS and social services and, if you wish, someone close to you such as a family member, friend or carer.
This meeting is your opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas about your aftercare, and to talk through your plans to continue to stay well.
You can also talk about what to do if you start to become unwell when you are no longer receiving section 117 aftercare.
What if I go back to hospital?
Going back to hospital does not end your section 117 aftercare, but it could mean your plan is changed.
Your current aftercare plan continues if you are admitted to hospital as an informal patient, or under sections 2, 4, 5 or 38 of the Mental Health Act.
You are still entitled to aftercare if you come back into hospital under a new section 3, 37, 45A, 47 or 48.
If this happens, we will review your plan and it may change, depending on your needs.
If you are unsure, or have any questions, speak to staff.
What are my carer’s rights?
The Mental Health Act gives rights to the person who is closest to you, such as your partner or the person you live with.
The legal term for them is “nearest relative”. Your nearest relative has the right to:
- be given some information about you
- ask for an independent mental health advocate (IMHA) to see you
- ask for your section to end by writing to the hospital managers
- speak on your behalf if you are not able to
Please ask us if you have any questions or concerns.
For more general information for carers visit our carers page:
More information and advice
Ask a member of staff, or your independent Mental Health Act advocate (IMHA). You can also visit our Mental Health Act page
Easy read information and films
Visit www.nhs.uk and search for “Easy Read Mental Health Act”.
More detailed information
MIND mental health charity: www.mind.org.uk
Legal line: 0300 466 6463 (local rate), 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday (not bank holidays)
or write to:
Mind Legal Line,
Unit 9, Cefn Coed Parc
Rethink Mental Illness: www.rethink.org
Advice and information: 0300 5000 927 (local rate), 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday (not bank holidays)