Section 12 (2) approved:

You may see psychiatry job specifications where the candidate must have Section 12(2) Approval. Having this qualification indicates that a doctor is trained and certified in the use of the Mental Health Act (the MHA is explained well here by Mind, a UK mental health charity). 

Section 12 refers to a specific part of the Mental Health Act regarding the compulsory admission of a mentally disordered patient, usually to hospital; the assessment and recommendation for this admission must be performed by at least one doctor who is Section 12(2) approved.Therefore, this approval may be essential for doctors filling posts in psychiatry at registrar and consultant levels.

If you do not have Section 12 (2) Approval yet, you can apply to gain this qualification, but there are specific criteria.

You must fit one of the following descriptions:

  • A consultant psychiatrist, member of the RCPsych with a letter of good professional standing and evidence of continuing professional development (e.g. logged in an ePortfolio)
  • A doctor in a recognised relevant training programme who can provide evidence of their practice through a report from a programme director or appropriate supervisor (as determined by the panel) and evidence of continuing professional development (e.g. logged in an ePortfolio)
  • A GP on the Performer’s List and who partakes in annual appraisal.
  • A doctor with relevant qualification and who has completed training or part of their training outside of England and Wales, who has not had previous Section 12 (2) approval but is familiar with the system and the Mental Health Act.


  • You must provide an up to date CV.
  • You must have minimum four years full time equivalent psychiatry experience and have completed two supervised Section 12 assessments
  • All doctors must have completed a Section 12 (2) Approvals course within the preceding 12 months, which is accessed through the Royal College of Psychiatry (RCPsych) website according to which region you will be working in. This page is for London, however it holds all the very useful information regarding the application for approval, and the contacts for the various regions.
  • You must have a valid criminal record (Disclosure and Barring Service, DBS) check. You should already have one from your current job in psychiatry, if you are coming from abroad, read the government information here.
  • You must have two references, at least one written by a consultant psychiatrist who is Section 12 (2) approved. Both referees must have worked with you for a reasonable amount of time (as determined by the panel) and at least one must have worked with you for this time in England within the preceding 12 months.
  • The other referee can be from one of various categories:
  • An approved clinician
  • A consultant psychiatrist who is a section 12 doctor
  • A person who is currently responsible for undertaking the applicant’s professional appraisal
  • An approved mental health professional with whom the applicant has worked for a period of time which the approving body considers reasonable within the twelve month period immediately preceding the date of the application
  • The applicant’s current medical director or clinical director (or a person the approving body considers to be equivalent to the applicant’s current medical or clinical director).

You can check this information yourself or read the original document at this link.

Did this answer your question?