Short courses


Prepare for 'Approved Clinician' status under the Mental Health Act

  • 55 hours
  • 7.5 days over 3 months


This CPD course is for qualified, eligible mental health professionals who intend to seek approval as an Approved Clinician (AC). It's designed to complement the clinical work-based activities you'll be undertaking as part of your journey to AC approval. 

You'll develop knowledge of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) and an understanding of the responsibilities of the AC and Responsible Clinician (RC).

You'll need the support of your employer to attend this course. You'll also need an agreement with them to ensure you're given the necessary clinical opportunities and appropriate mentoring support to practise your developing skills and understanding of the RC role.

The course does not lead to AC approval which is a statutory function and can only be provided by a relevant authority. To gain AC approval, you'll need to submit a portfolio of evidence to an approval panel.

Who this course is for

This course is open to the five professions eligible for AC approval: 

  • practitioner psychologists
  • mental health/learning disability nurses 
  • occupational therapists
  • social workers
  • medical practitioners in mental health who are not on the GMC specialist register for psychiatry

You should be a senior clinician in clinical practice and able to demonstrate clear clinical leadership functions in your current role, supported by a current job description and CV.

You'll also need to have the the explicit support of your organisation to develop into an AC. Further details of the nature of this support are outlined in this document on organisational support (Word).

Course content

Each day will cover the following:

  • Day 1: Introduction to the course, AC role and portfolio
  • Day 2: The legal context of the MHA and the roles of the AC and RC
  • Day 3: Part 2 of the MHA and civil patients
  • Day 4: Part 3 of the MHA and forensic matters
  • Day 5: Consent to Treatment under the MHA, and statutory documentation
  • Day 6: The Mental Capacity Act, including its relationship to the MHA
  • Day 7: Mental health tribunals, and the service user perspective
  • Day 8: Equality and diversity matters, and portfolio preparation workshop


There will be a mix of teaching and group-based exercises from legal and mental health professionals. This will give you opportunities for discussion with fellow course attendees and the instructors.

The workshops will take place within an enjoyable and engaging learning environment where new skills can be developed and extended. 

The initial session will be online. The rest of the course will take place in person, in London, if possible. If this is not possible because of the impact of the pandemic and government guidelines, the course will be delivered remotely.


You'll receive a certificate of attendance after completing the course.

The course does not lead to AC approval. To gain AC approval you'll need to submit a portfolio of evidence to an approval panel. You'll also need to attend a statutory two-day induction programme for Approved Clinicians to prepare your portfolio.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course you should:

  • be familiar with the MHA and the role and responsibilities of the AC and RC
  • understand the different sections of the MHA and when they're applied
  • understand the purpose and function of Mental Health Tribunals and managers hearings
  • be familiar with matters of equality and diversity at the interface with the MHA 
  • have an understanding of what's required in compiling a portfolio of evidence in order to proceed to seek approval from an approving authority

Pre-course reading

You may find it useful to read the following before attending the course:

Course team

Anselm Eldergill

Anselm Eldergill

Anselm is a judge in the Court of Protection and an Honorary Professor of Mental Capacity Law at UCL. He was a solicitor specialising in mental health law for 25 years before becoming a judge. He’s been a Mental Health Act Commissioner, Chairman of the Mental Health Act Commission Law & Ethics Committee, Chairman of the Mental Health Tribunal Legislative Reform Working Group for the MoJ and DH Independent Review of the Mental Health Act. He’s currently a member of the United Nations Expert Judicial Group on Capacity and Access to Justice, 2018. He’s lectured and written extensively on mental health law and policy.

Dr Anne Sheeran

Dr Anne Sheeran

Anne is a Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist. She's been an Approved Clinician since 2014. Anne worked as a Responsible Clinician in a women’s medium secure ward from 2015 to 2019 as part of a previous role and now holds a full-time post as a Responsible Clinician in forensic rehab and community services for people with ID/ASD. Anne was a member of the England South Approvals Panel from 2011 to 2019 and is currently a member of the BPS MHA Advisory Group.

Course information last modified: 27 Apr 2022, 09:43