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Are you entitled to free s117 aftercare services?

Our People - Melissa Dieter
25 March, 2024

Transitioning back to life after hospitalisation can be challenging. Did you know you might be entitled to free s117 aftercare services that can help you manage your mental health and get back on track? Aftercare services provide support like medication management, therapy, and help with daily tasks.

Section 117 aftercare when leaving hospital

If you were admitted or transferred to hospital and subsequently detained there under the Mental Health Act 1983 (“MHA”), you may be entitled to aftercare services when you leave. S117 of the MHA, titled ‘Aftercare,’ sets out how it is the duty of the Integrated Care Board (ICB), or if you live in Wales the Local Health Board, as well as the Local Social Services Authority to provide or arrange aftercare services.

What is an Integrated Care Board (ICB)?

An ICB is a statutory NHS organisation who oversees and manages the mental health needs of a specific area. The relevant ICB will be determined by the area in which the patient was ordinarily resident prior to their detention under the MHA. 

What is section 117 aftercare service?

Section 117 aftercare services are helpfully defined in the MHA 1983 Code of Practice (“Code of Practice”), paragraph 33.4, as those services that ‘meet a need that arises directly from or is related to the particular patient’s mental disorder, and help to reduce the risk of a deterioration in the patient’s mental condition.’

In other words, the purpose of s117 aftercare services is to provide patients who were detained in hospital due to a mental disorder, support when they leave. They are very important in sustaining the progress a patient has made. It can be difficult to adjust to life outside hospital and it is important to ensure you are given the support you need.

What is a mental disorder?

The Mental Health Act uses a broad definition for a mental disorder of “any disorder or disability of the mind.” This can encompass a variety of mental health conditions. If you’re unsure if your condition qualifies, you can reference the Code of Practice, which lists common examples like schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.

Who can get section 117 aftercare?

You are entitled to free aftercare services if you were detained in hospital for treatment under s3, s37, s45A, s47 and s48 of the MHA. Free aftercare services are also available for those who are placed on a Community Treatment Order (CTO) after they were discharged, or those granted a leave of absence.

Please bear in mind that if you are no longer detained in hospital, but do not leave immediately (for example if you remain for a period as a voluntary patient), you will still be entitled to aftercare services.

What are the benefits of section 117 aftercare services?

Section 117 aftercare offers a vital safety net for those leaving the hospital after treatment for a mental health condition. It provides a range of free services tailored to your specific needs, helping you adjust to life outside and reducing the risk of relapse. These services can include therapy, medication management, help with daily living, and even finding work or suitable housing. This comprehensive support system is crucial for promoting long-term recovery and empowering you to live a fulfilling life.

Who is responsible for ensuring you receive s117 aftercare services?

As soon as a patient leaves hospital, the ICB (or local health board) and the local social services authority will have a duty to provide or arrange for the provision of aftercare services. Please note that this does not mean they should only consider aftercare services when you leave; on the contrary, they are expected to plan which aftercare services are most suitable for you before you are discharged. 

How long will s117 aftercare services be provided? 

Aftercare services are to be provided until such time as the ICB and the local social services authority ‘are satisfied that the person concerned is no longer in need of such services’ (S117(2) MHA).

This may seem quite vague, but please be reassured that aftercare services cannot be stopped suddenly. The ICB and local social services authority will need to assess and review that person’s needs. If you are the person receiving aftercare services, it will be expected that the ICB and local social services authority involve you in the decision to end them.

Contact our GN Law Mental Health Team

If you have any questions in relation to s117 aftercare, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Mental Health Solicitors or get in touch on 020 8492 2290.

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