Book review: The Approved Mental Health Professional’s Guide to Mental Health Law by Robert Brown

The Approved Mental Health Professional’s Guide to Mental Health Law

Robert Brown, Learning Matters, ISBN 9781844451159

review by David Hewitt

This redoubtable book covers every aspect of the life of an approved mental health professional (AMHP), from detaining patients in hospital to looking after them in the community – and vice versa.

It manages to distil the complexities of the Mental Health Act into less than 150 pages of text, weaves in the code of practice and other equally apposite material, and adds one or two useful appendices to boot. (Few AMHPs, surely, carry round the regulations appropriate to their role, and those that do are to be approached with caution.)

The approach is discursive, with basic black-letter law being set in its historical, social and theoretical context. This makes the book a concise, readable primer for those interested in how mental health law came to be the way it is.

It can also, however, make it seem rather more like a teaching text than a hardcore practitioner guide, an impression strengthened by the sample questions that end each chapter. And concision is a weakness as well as a strength: a great deal is covered here, but not always in the detail that some will require.

That said, if you are or hope to be an AMHP, or even if you’re just plain curious, this guide, though not the only one you’ll need, is certainly among the best you could have.

David Hewitt is a partner in Weightmans LLP and the author of The Nearest Relative Handbook

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