Hospital admission

FSS talk and presentation on hospital admission and MHCA process

Understanding the Mental Health Care Act and the functions of the Mental Health Review Board

Summary of a talk given by Elsa van der Watt, Mental Health Review Board Chairperson, at the August 2022 online meeting of Family Support for Schizophrenia. Extracted from FSS newsletters.

Understanding the Mental Health Care Act and the functions of the Mental Health Review Board

Copy of a presentation given by Elsa van der Watt, Mental Health Review Board Chairperson, at the August 2022 online meeting of Family Support for Schizophrenia. Explains admission and review processes using MHCA forms.

Types of hospital admission

There are three types of admission in terms of the Mental Health Care Act:

  • Voluntary care, treatment and rehabilitation – when the person is in need of psychiatric treatment and willingly agrees to be admitted to a mental health facility for in-patient treatment.
  • Assisted care, treatment and rehabilitation – when the person is in need of psychiatric treatment but is incapable of making an informed decision due to their mental health status but does not refuse the health intervention.
  • Involuntary care, treatment and rehabilitation – when the person is in need of psychiatric treatment but is incapable of making an informed decision due to their mental health status and refuses health intervention

MHCA forms

These are the two Mental Health Care Act (MHCA) forms you are most likely to encounter in the process of applying for assisted or involuntary admission of your loved one to a public health establishment:

  • Form MHCA 04: Application for assisted or involuntary care, treatment and rehabilitation
  • Form MHCA 22: Handing over custody by the South African police services of a person suspected of being mentally ill or severely or profoundly intellectually disabled and likely to inflict serious harm

Here are some pointers regarding Form MHCA 04:

  • Form MHCA 04 is the only MHCA form completed by members of the public.
  • The same form is used for assisted care or involuntary care. The relevant box at the top of Section A must be marked accordingly.
  • The “user” is the patient who is being admitted into the mental health care system. In terms of the Act, a “mental health care user” is a person receiving care, treatment and rehabilitation services aimed at enhancing their mental health status.
  • The “applicant” is the person who completes the application form. The applicant should preferably be a family member or someone who knows the user well.
  • The completed form must be signed under oath in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths, otherwise it will not be valid.

Note that in the case of an application for voluntary admission no MHCA forms are needed. The standard admission forms of the facility are used.

Where to get MHCA forms

Form MHCA 04: Application form

Hard copies

Form MHCA 22: SAPS custody form

Hard copies

  • Every police station should have copies of Form MHCA 22 at hand. If you call on the police for help in taking your loved one to the hospital and they do not have a copy, you can download and print one for them.