The Masked AMHP sucked contemplatively on his electronic Meerschaum pipe as he leafed through a well-thumbed copy of The Mental Health Act Manual. A shaft of sunlight shone through the office window and illuminated his Stetson.
“Fascinating,” he said eventually, blowing out a pollution-free smoke-like substance into the atmosphere. “Jones suggests that the design of door handles or the use of key pads making it difficult for a confused patient to leave the hospital or care home would not constitute a deprivation of liberty, and yet I have seen many such godforsaken individuals clawing hopelessly at the exit doors who are clearly making patently clear their wish to leave their place of incarceration. Would it not be more legally sound for such persons to receive the legal safeguards afforded by detention under the Mental Health Act?”
Tonto, the Masked AMHP’s faithful and attentive, although not that bright, AMHP trainee, looked up from his iPad, on which he had been diligently reading the latest post on the Masked AMHP blog while furiously taking notes for one of his assignments and gazed in awe at his mentor.
“By Jove, Masked AMHP,” he exclaimed. “I do believe you may be correct! I am quite certain that Jones will have to amend his next edition in the light of your observation!"
“Indubitably, my dear Tonto,” The Masked AMHP replied insouciantly, tapping away at an email to Richard Jones.
Just then the phone rang.
“Allow me to get that, Masked AMHP,” Tonto intoned, anxious to be of use, picking up the receiver. He listened intently, then passed it over to the Masked AMHP.
“There’s a distraught woman in reception,” he said. “She’s concerned about the mental state of her partner. I’m a little out of my depth with that, I’m afraid, just being a humble trainee.”
“Ah, Section 13 brackets 4,” The Masked AMHP muttered. “Let’s go down and see her, shall we?”
A few minutes later The Masked AMHP and his humble AMHP trainee were ensconced in an interview room with a tearful young woman.
“I’m so worried about Johnny,” she sobbed pitifully. “At first we had such a wonderful relationship, but lately he’s been shutting himself away in the study for hours on end. He tells me to go away if I put my head round the door, and I can hear him shouting and muttering to himself. I fear that he is hearing voices that no-one else can hear, which must mean he is developing schizophrenia and must be incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act for assessment!
The Masked AMHP sat deep in thought, while the AMHP trainee tried to comfort the poor woman by dabbing at her eyes with his pocket handkerchief and offering her an extra strong mint.
At last he said, “Tell me, my dear young lady, how long have you lived with your, ahem, fiancé?”
“It’s 5 and a half months to the day,” she replied, blowing her nose loudly but at the same time daintily on Tonto’s handkerchief.
“And what did he do to occupy his free time before you began to share a house?”
“I believe he owned a Playstation 3. But he put it away in the attic when I moved in with him.”
“And how does his visage appear currently?” The Masked AMHP enquired.
“When I have seen him, he has a terrible haunted look, as if he is being pursued by all the demons in Hell! Oh, sir, do you suppose he is having visual hallucinations? That would be just too, too terrible.”
“Aha! I believe we have the solution to this little problem,” The Masked AMHP said triumphantly. “I do not need to interview your partner in a suitable manner, or indeed in any manner at all. For it is plain to see that he is not mentally ill in any way!”
Tonto and the young lady gazed in amazement at The Masked AMHP.
“By Jove, Masked AMHP!” Tonto pronounced. “How can you tell that without even examining the poor chap?”
“It’s simple,” The Masked AMHP continued. “He likes to play games on the Playstation 3, but infatuation for this young lady has led him to abstain for several months. But The Last of Us has just come out on the Playstation, and he just had to play it, didn’t he? Of course he has a haunted look! It’s a terrifying game! But he’s no more mentally disordered than most of the current Cabinet!”
Back in the office, The Masked AMHP sat back and fired up his electronic Meerschaum pipe, as he dictated his AMHP Assessment Report to his AMHP trainee.
“And of course,” The Masked AMHP concluded, “I didn’t need to interview him in any case, because it wasn’t a Section 13 brackets 4 nearest relative request at all! She couldn’t be his nearest relative – because they hadn’t been living together as husband and wife for at least six months!”