Ask a Family Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask if your daughter has any children please? From what you say she was formally adopted by you before she was 18 and you are therefore her lawful adopted parents?
She does not have any children. I am her lawful adopted mother and her lawful adopted father is American and lives in Vermont
Thank you. Is her father similarly concerned along with you?
Yes, but he is not in comparable situation as in USA
Thanks. There is provision under the Mental Health Act for an approved mental health professional - this can be a social worker or psychiatrist - or a nearest relative to apply for an order under either sections 2, 3 or 4 under the above Act. This is commonly referred to as being "sectioned" - you may have come across this term.
An approved mental health professional can make an order under the Act if it can be shown that your daughter is suffering from a mental disorder. A mental disorder is defined in section 1 of the Act as “any disorder or disability of mind”. It can include any mental health problem normally diagnosed in psychiatry and also some forms of learning disability though from what you say this is not learning disability issue from what you say.
How is the process of being sectioned initiated?
Accordingly if you have concerns in respect of your daughters condition you can consider as her nearest relative contacting social services and / or her psychiatrist if she has previously been treated by one in order to request that they take steps to assess whether an order under the above Act should be considered. If she has never been sectioned under the Ac before the most likely section to be used would be section 2 which is an order for assessment. In order for an order to be issued under section 2 the Act provides that it must be shown in relation to your daughter:(a) she is suffering from “a mental disorder" (as defined above) of a nature or degree that warrants detention in hospital for assessment” (or assessment followed by medical treatment) for at least a limited period; and(b) she ought to be detained in the interests of her own health or safety, or with a view to the protection of others.
She has no psychiatrist or social service contact in UK but does in US. what is your suggestion for locating a professional to begin working with on assessment? Do I try to phone Herefordshire Social Services, or a private psychiatrist? I have no personal contacts to turn to
If you wish to make a request as your daughters nearest relative and she has had no previous psychiatric treatment initially you can contact the adult social services team at the council local to where she is living and express your concerns about your daughter giving them appropriate details.
A social worker will normally be sent to visit your daughter and interview her in order to compile a report so as to decide whether to make an order or not. You will also be consulted as her nearest relative.
If she is section under section 2 she can be admitted if necessary against her will to hospital for initial psychiatric assessment and doctors can from there make such further orders as they consider necessary for her treatment if she refuses consent to treatment. Your daughter has a variety of rights of appeal if she is sectioned.
Alternatively of course you could encourage her to attend voluntarily though I assume you have already attempted this.
OK, so I shall contact Herefordshire adult social services and proceed from there. This is a council, unfortunately, which has virtually ceased to provide services beyond a bare minimum, but at least I shall have logged my concern for her safety and can continue to urge her to go to her GP. I did make an appointment but she did not turn up - so I talked to GP at that point and this is where I learnt that there was no more to be done if the adult did not appear.
Social Services have a statutory duty towards your daughter but you are quite right that their statutory duties tend to be exercised to the bare minimum because of budgetary constraints. However they are still the obvious place to begin. If you are dissatisfied with their decision or actions you could consult a local psychiatrist privately in order to ask them to attend your daughter to conduct his own assessment. Psychiatrists have their own powers to section under the act just as do social services. In theory this could be referred by the GP but the GP perhaps understandably will be reluctant to do this if they do not have prior knowledge of your daughters condition which in itself is difficult if she has not attended for an appointment.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
You have been very helpful and given me a path of action that I can begin, so many thanks, XXXXX XXXXX