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Sectioned but with no plan for treatment: Khalid’s story

2 February 2023

Nursing staff agreed he was well enough to be discharged, but Khalid needed support to be in the room where decisions were made.

Khalid* is a young man with an active social life. He has a close circle of friends in his community, and enjoys spending time with them. 

After some disputes with his family, Khalid spent some time in a private mental health hospital. Not long after being discharged, he was admitted and placed under section in an NHS mental health ward. 

Being sectioned means you have to stay in hospital, and you can’t choose to leave. There are different kinds of section, with different rules which decide how long you’ll need to stay, and what freedoms you might have. 

Soon after his admission, Khalid felt much better, and wanted to leave. Khalid found the ward too restrictive for his needs, and was quite distressed at the idea of staying longer. The ward didn’t identify any treatment that they could offer that would benefit to his mental health, as he was obviously feeling well, which made things worse. 

Khalid was frustrated, and he walked out of his first ward review. 

Meeting an advocate

Advocates from VoiceAbility visit the ward regularly to host a drop-in, where they can meet patients who may need support.

Khalid met Andrew, and became tearful as he described his situation. He was desperate to leave that day, and felt he couldn’t cope on the ward.

Andrew explained what an advocate is: an independent person who is on your side, and can help you understand what’s happening, listen to your wishes, and support you to be heard.

Andrew asked Khalid what he would want to happen if he was able to leave, including if he felt he would need support to stay out of hospital. Khalid explained that although he was living at the family home, and his family situation was part of why he’d been sectioned, he had friends he could stay with if he was discharged.

Due to his difficulties with the first meeting, Khalid asked if Andrew could raise his request to leave on his behalf. 

Andrew spoke with nursing staff. They felt there was no reason for Khalid to remain on the ward for treatment, but that the consultant was still reviewing things. In fact, there was a meeting happening at that moment to formulate a plan for Khalid. Because Khalid had walked out of the first meeting, they hadn’t included him.

Being heard in a meeting

After speaking to Khalid about this meeting and the points they had discussed, Andrew arranged for him and Khalid to attend that meeting. 

Khalid was able to put forward his plans about what he would do if he was discharged, including where he would go. He also talked about professional services he might call on for help if he needed them, like requesting a referral for a care coordinator in the community, and support getting settled housing.

The consultant agreed there was no need for Khalid to remain on the ward. He agreed Khalid could be discharged as soon as he had confirmation of an address he would go to for the short term - which Khalid promised to provide by that evening.

Khalid thanked advocacy for being there and getting him into the room to argue his case. Khalid put his own views forward successfully, but he said he didn’t feel he would have got the outcome he had without his advocate’s involvement. 

* To protect people’s privacy we don’t use their real names, but their stories are genuine.