Our expert says:
OK, the law deals with conflicts of opinion ( he thinks she is suicidal, or perhaps a danger to others, and she disagrees ) usually by ending up with a court hearing to hear all sides and make a fair decision to benefit the individual.
But they are allowed by law to intervene WHEN REQUESTED by someone with standing ( with a legal right to be concerned ) such as next of kin or a close relative, when someone appears to be an acute danger to themselves or to others, and perhaps on their own when someone is found in obvious danger ( such as perched on a high place threatening to jump off ) - to the extent of taking the person to a safe place where they can be protected and assessed by a mental health specialist, usually a psychiatrist, who should then listen carefully to the person and assess them as he/she might assess anyone in distress and possibly unwell, and decide whether they are at risk and in need of treatment.
If he thinks not, he can then discharge the person to go home and continue with their life. If he thinks so, he can invoke other sections of the law if he is convinced that the person is at risk and unwilling to voluntarily accept help, and arrange for them to be compulsorily admitted to hospital and even compulsorily treated, if needs be.
Obviously it is possible that others may be mistaken in thinking someone could be at risk ; or it is possible that someone genuinely at high risk of self-harm may deny it as part of their plan to be able to harm themselves. This is why te law tries to balance the risks by making provision for compulsory detention ( it's not an ordinary arrest ) and assessment, to try to clarify what is happening
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