A common worry when people seek mental health treatment is the idea that they might be forced at some point to take medication.

However, it is important to know that this idea is incorrect – in the vast majority of cases. Apart from a few very select circumstances, it will always be up to the patient.

Medication has the potential to have a very positive effect

Can you ever be forced to take medication?

In the majority of cases, you cannot and will not be forced to take any medication against your will. This includes any treatment – whether this is talking therapy or indeed medication.

For example, if a doctor believes that their patient may benefit from antidepressants due to their mental health, they may offer to prescribe them. However, the patient will be able to say no.

However, as mentioned earlier, this is not always the case. But for the majority of the time, it is wholly the patient’s choice.

When can a person be forced to take medication?

Under very select circumstances, a person can be forced to take medication. But it is important to emphasise that these are rare and rather severe circumstances.

If a patient has been admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act (being sectioned), health professionals are legally allowed to force a patient to take the medicine.

A patient though will only be detained under the Mental Health Act if they are in a position where they are a danger to themselves or others. Therefore, it would be in their interest to let others take care of their treatment.

Moreover, if a patient is discharged from hospital following being detained under the Mental Health Act, they may do so under what’s called a “Community Treatment Order”. This allows the patient’s responsible clinician to return the patient to hospital.

Thinking ahead of the future

For those with more severe mental health conditions may wish to consider writing an “advanced decision”. This is a legally binding statement where a patient makes a declaration for if they ever find themselves in a position where they can’t make a decision.

This would be used by mental health professionals to ensure that decisions are made which support the wishes of the patient. Many people find them to be a useful document to create.

This is essentially planning for a future crisis. Most people will never reach this stage. However for those that are concerned they might reach this point and not want to take medication, they can create this document.


It is important to emphasise that the vast majority of people will never have to take any psychiatric medication against their will. They will do so as they have made the conscious decision to.

But a minority of people will be forced to take medication. Yet this will only be the case when the patient is not in a position where they can make an informed decision. Instead, a doctor will do what they feel is best for the patient.

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