Some people who have been kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act can get free help and support after they leave hospital. The law that gives this right is section 117 of the Mental Health Act and is referred to as section 117 aftercare.

Read Section 117 Mental Health After-Care Dorset joint Policy (PDF).

Key points about section 117 aftercare:

  • Aftercare means the help you get when you leave hospital

  • You will get free aftercare when you leave hospital for support or services that are linked to your mental disorder

  • The care you receive will help reduce the risk of you becoming unwell again and possibly needing readmission to hospital

  • Your illness may affect you in different ways. Your aftercare will help you with your specific needs and will be based upon an agreed care plan reflecting your individual circumstances

  • Aftercare may include health care, social care, and supported accommodation

  • Section 117 aftercare does not cover ordinary housing. However, you may get specialist housing if this is considered a necessary part of your aftercare, help to meet other people, help with work or education and free prescriptions for mental health medication

Who is entitled to section 117 aftercare?

You are entitled to section 117 (S117) aftercare if you have been in hospital for treatment under section 3, 37, 45A, 47 or 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983 and if you are placed on a Community Treatment Order (section 17A) after discharge from hospital. You will not be entitled to free aftercare if you have only been in hospital under section 2, 4, 5 or 38 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

Aftercare services are to help meet your mental health needs and to help reduce the risk that you may need to be admitted to hospital again for treatment of your mental health condition.

S117 aftercare services will continue to be provided whilst NHS Dorset and your local authority are satisfied that you still require these services to meet needs arising from your mental health condition and to avoid deterioration in that condition. Decisions to stop S117 aftercare services will not be made without you being involved.

Your care coordinator, which will normally be your social worker, will be able to advise you as to whether you are entitled to S117 aftercare and will involve you in the planning of the appropriate aftercare services to meet your needs. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for you to receive direct payments to allow you to pay directly for the aftercare services. Again, your care coordinator will be able to advise.

Can I apply for section 117 aftercare?

No, members of the public cannot apply for section 117 aftercare. Your discharge from hospital will include your section 117 aftercare arrangements.