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Approved Mental Health Professional

An Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) undertakes specialist functions and duties on behalf of local authorities, under the Mental Health Act.

One of the main functions of an AMHP is to coordinate Mental Health Act assessments for people who may need to be admitted to hospital due to having a severe mental disorder that may cause a risk of harm to the person or others. The AMHP will assess the person with one or two doctors and decide whether the person needs to be detained (sectioned). The assessing doctors can make a recommendation for a person to be detained but it is the AMHP that will make the decision whether or not to submit an application.

An AMHP must be registered with the appropriate body and must come form the following professions:

  • Social Worker
  • Psychiatric or Learning Disability Nurse
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Chartered Psychologist.

Medical doctors cannot be AMHPs and currently most AMHPs in Wales are Social Workers.

AMHPs must undertake significant specialist training before they can be approved by a local authority. The only course of this type in Wales is the Approved Mental Health Professional (PGCert) delivered over one academic year by Swansea University. To continue practising, AMHPs must undertake additional training to provide evidence that they continue to have appropriate competence to carry out the functions of an AMHP.

AMHPs must:

  1. Be confident in their knowledge of mental health law including case law. They will make decisions that can have a significant impact on people’s lives and those decisions need to be lawful and defensible.
  2. Ensure the law is applied correctly and that the least restrictive principle is adopted in all cases.
  3. Have good knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act and the Human Rights Act to ensure that the rights of the person being assessed are fully protected and that a social perspective is brought to the assessment.

Although AMHPs are often employed by local authorities, the role is fully independent meaning that the AMHP alone is responsible for making decisions. This autonomy and the complexity of the role means that being an AMHP is a challenging yet highly rewarding job.

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