Mental health

Even the process of getting arrested can be very stressful and if you are charged, court cases can add further strain. Take care of your mental and emotional health.

Mental health issues in custody 

Some of the questions you will be asked when you are booked in at the station will concern your physical and mental health (including whether you have a history of self-harm). The stated purpose of these questions is to ascertain whether you have any disabilities and/or pre-existing health conditions which may put you at risk while you are in custody. It is important to realise that if you tell the officer booking you in that you do have mental health problems and/or a history of self-harm OR answer no comment to those questions, the police are very likely to regularly check up on you when you are placed in a cell. This can be unpleasant and seriously disrupt any attempts at sleep. On the other hand you will need to declare mental health issues if you want to have access to an appropriate adult (see below). If you think you are likely to be arrested on a demonstration, it is worth considering how you will deal with this. Our recommendation is to do whatever makes you feel safest.

You also have the right to an “appropriate adult”, this is someone who at some points during their detention, can be with detainees who are under the age of 18 or who have learning difficulties or mental health issues. A parent or guardian or appropriate adult must be called and be present for any police interview. The police can refuse for a nominated person to be an appropriate adult, and they may not agree to someone who has a criminal record or who was involved in the action. The default expectation of the police is often that it will be a parent or adult sibling. However, it doesn’t have to be and you can have one of these or another person of your choosing in mind before going out on an action. If you don’t provide your own appropriate adult the police may find a social worker, but this is not normally recommended. The police might also use an appropriate adult scheme to source one for you.


Activist Trauma Support archived resource