Mental health

The nearest relative

The Mental Health Act 1983 defines who this is and what the specific rights of a nearest relative are.

The nearest relative is set out as follows in order of priority:

  • husband or wife (including living as husband or wife for six months or more and also same sex partners)
  • son or daughter
  • father or mother
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • uncle or aunt
  • nephew or niece

Where there is an alternative, the oldest relative has priority.  Sometimes the nearest relative cannot be contacted, or does not wish to have that role, or is not able to carry out that role, or does not appear to meet any of the above relationships.  The ASW will advise on these matters.

The nearest relative has a number of rights and powers: 

  • they can request that an ASW investigate the person's situation if they believe the person needs to be in hospital
  • they have the right to be informed of any detention
  • in some circumstances they have the right to object to a 'section'
  • they have the right to request discharge from a 'section'