What is Mental Capacity

Mental Capacity means being able to make decisions for yourself

Every day we have to make decisions about lots of things in our lives. The ability to make these decisions is called mental capacity. 

When mental capacity is affected

People may have difficulty making decisions for lots of reasons. Mental capacity doesn't mean you're just indecisive. it could be for a number of reasons including:

  • A learning disability
  • A mental health problem
  • A head injury or medical condition that affects the brain

How you can assess mental capacity

You may need to assess someone's ability to make a decision if you are worried about them. You’ll need to consider whether the person can:

  • Understand the decision that needs to be made
  • Remember information
  • Weigh up information before making a decision
  • Communicate why they've made that decision

It is a criminal offence to ill treat or neglect a person who lacks the capacity to make decisions. A person found guilty may receive a prison sentence of up to five years.

For more information on the law regarding mental capacity please check our page on the Mental Capacity Act.