Thursday 25 July 2013

What Is An AMHP?

It's not compulsory for AMHP's to wear this T-shirt
Well I’m glad you asked me that. AMHP is an acronym of “Approved Mental Health Professional”.
Is that it?
Do you want more?
Well, yes.
(Sighs). OK, here goes. The Mental Health Act 2007 amended the Mental Health Act 1983. One of the amendments was to create the “Approved Mental Health Professional”. The AMHP has a very important role to play in the functioning of the Mental Health Act.
Hang on a minute. The Mental Health Act. What’s that exactly?
(Sighs even more deeply). OK. The Mental Health Act lays down the legal framework in which people can be compulsorily admitted and detained in psychiatric hospitals. It covers ordinary members of the public who might become mentally disordered, as well as “mentally disordered offenders” – people who have committed criminal offences and who have gone to court, but who may need assessment or treatment for mental disorder.
Except for people who are dealt with through the courts, the involvement of an AMHP is necessary in order to make decisions about whether or not someone needs to be admitted to hospital for assessment or treatment.
So why do you need an AMHP then?
I was coming to that. An AMHP helps to provide a remedy to excessive medicalisation of the process of assessing and treating people with mental disorder. Doctors can make recommendations that someone should be detained in hospital, but it is up to the AMHP to make the final decision. It is also the responsibility of the AMHP to ensure that the law is being applied correctly.
So what is an AMHP then?
An AMHP can be a social worker, a psychiatric nurse, an occupational therapist or a clinical psychologist. A doctor cannot be an AMHP. Before the 2007 Act, only social workers could do the job. Then, they were called “ASW’s”.
Tell me more about what an AMHP actually does.
With pleasure. The AMHP role is a complex one. It is also unique among the tasks of social workers and other mental health professionals in that the AMHP is acting as an autonomous professional rather than an agent of their employees, whether is be a local authority or an NHS Trust. An AMHP cannot be told by a manager to “go out and section” someone. All they can be asked to do is to conduct an assessment under the MHA and reach their own conclusion based on all the evidence.
AMHP’s have had to undergo extensive specialist training, and therefore have an in depth knowledge of law and have the responsibility for upholding the law when conducting assessments under the MHA. They can use that knowledge to ensure that the rights of those being assessed are protected, and can provide a counter to the medical model of mental health, introducing a more rounded social perspective to the process. They need to use their knowledge not just of mental health legislation but also the Human Rights Act and other legislation, such as the Mental Capacity Act. This can give them the confidence to disagree with the doctors, and to seek out and suggest alternatives to hospital admission.
The AMHP will draw on all the information available on that individual, not just the medical and clinical factors. This includes their individual social and cultural circumstances, the possible risks and protective factors, as well as their knowledge of mental illness and the legal process, in order to try and reach a just and equitable conclusion which will balance the rights of the patient with their possible need for protection and treatment.
Shall I tell you about the powers and duties of the AMHP?
I’m beginning to wish I’d never asked you a question in the first place. But go on.
I could do a Powerpoint presentation if you like.
Please don’t.
Very well. As briefly as possible then.

 AMHP powers:

  • The power to make an application for compulsory admission to hospital under Sec.2, Sec.3 or Sec.4
  • The power to make an application for guardianship under Sec.7
  • The power to convey the patient to hospital or to authorise others to do so
  • The power to enter and inspect premises – other than a hospital -- where someone is not receiving proper care
  • The power to apply for a warrant to search for and remove patients or persons living alone in need of care under Sec.135(1)
  • The power to remove and return patients within UK, or to take or re-take detained patients absent without leave (S.18 and S.138)
AMHP duties:

  • The duty to interview the patient “in a suitable manner” (Sec.13(2))
  • The duty to respond to a request by a Nearest Relative to assess someone under the MHA (Sec.13(4))
  • The duty to consult the patient’s Nearest Relative when considering a Sec.3 (or guardianship)
  • The duty to inform the patient’s Nearest Relative when detaining under Sec.2
  • The duty to interview a person removed to a "place of safety" by police under S.136
  • The duty to consider an application for a patient to be made subject to Supervised Community treatment under Sec.17A
Do you have any more questions?
Not now, thanks. I really must be going. Actually, I do have one: how do you actually pronounce “AMHP”?
I’m really glad you asked me that. On a day to day basis, you obviously don’t want to be saying “Approved Mental Health Professional” all the time. You could pronounce each initial, eg. “Ay Em Aitch Pee”, or you could just pronounce it “Amp”. Personally, I favour “Amp”, as “The Masked Amp” sounds cool, but “The Masked Ay Em Aitch Pee” just sounds silly.
So you think that “Masked Amp” sounds cool, do you?
Yes I do. You can go now.


  1. Now if you can just provide thereferences that's one of my competences (or is it competencies)sorted!

  2. The Masked AMHP IS the reference. And not one to question lest you get a visit in the night......

  3. Hello Mask AMHP,
    I would like to emaile you and gt some tips and advice on returning to AMHP work with the lA
    My email address is