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What is a mental health officer (MHO)?

A Mental Health Officer (MHO) is a registered social worker who has completed specialist training and has an additional qualification in mental health. All local authorities are required to employ a sufficient number of MHOs.

There are no charges for Mental Health Officer services.

Who can make a referral for an MHO?

A GP or psychiatrist will refer to an MHO when they are considering use of legislation to help a patient receive the right care and treatment.

A lawyer can request the help of an MHO to provide a report when an application is being made for Guardianship (under the Adults With Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000).

All enquiries in relation to the role of the Mental Health Officer should be directed to the MH Co-ordinator  01563 576951.

What do MHOs do?

MHOs have duties under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Scotland Act 2003 and the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000. MHOs have a wide range of tasks:

  • For people requiring hospital admission who are mentally unwell and cannot consent for necessary treatment, the MHO may consider consent to their admission to hospital for assessment or treatment under an emergency or short term detention certificate
  • For those persons requiring care and treatment in hospital for an extended period the MHO can apply to the Mental Health Tribunal Service for Compulsory Treatment Orders authorising detention in hospital for up to a period of six months
  • Advising individuals of their rights (including the right to independent advocacy and legal representation)
  • Providing social circumstances reports (SCR), providing a background history on the person subject to admission.
  • Identifying the nominated named person
  • Providing assessments and reports for the Sheriff Courts to support Guardianship applications (under the Adults With Incapacity Act 2000)
  • Providing advice for other professionals, service users and carers about the use of mental health legislation

What is a designated MHO?

When an individual is required to receive care and/or treatment under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment)(Scotland) Act 2003 the Local Authority must appoint a designated MHO for the period that the individual is subject to compulsory measures under the Mental Health Act. This provides consistent contact for people to discuss their situation and any concerns they may have. 

The designated MHO will consult and liaise with the doctor in charge of the persons care and treatment, known as the Responsible Medical Officer (RMO) and prepare any reports necessary for the Mental Health Tribunal Service of the courts.

Contact Information

Social Services (Kilmarnock)
The Johnnie Walker Bond
15 Strand Street
East Ayrshire
Telephone: 01563 554200
Social Services (Cumnock)
Rothesay House
1 Greenholm Road
East Ayrshire
KA18 1LH
Telephone: 01290 427720
Social Work: Ayrshire Urgent Care Service
Note: The Emergency Out Of Hours Social Work Service is available after 5pm until 9am, Monday to Thursday and after 4pm on Friday until 9am on Monday (throughout the weekend). It is also available during public holidays. You will be put through to the Ayrshire Social Work out of Hours Response Service. A qualified Social Worker will assess the circumstances referred.