Aim This paper will explore the application of situation awareness in nursing to determine its suitability as a framework to study how the decision to admit or not admit a person as an involuntary patient is made. Background The decision by a specially qualified nurse to admit or not admit a person to a mental health facility against their will remains a central component of contemporary mental health legislation. The decision has an impact on a person's autonomy and human rights. Conversely, the decision to admit may facilitate urgent assessment and treatment and ensure the safety of the individual and others. Research highlights that decision-making in this context is challenging due to the multiple information sources and often incomplete information available to the clinician. Situation awareness is a concept used to explain how practitioners identify, use and make meaning of a multitude of factors and elements relevant to their practice. Design Discussion paper. Data sources A search of terms related to situation awareness and mental health nursing was conducted in the period 2000 - present. Implications for nursing Exploring nurses decision-making using a situation awareness framework provides for a more nuanced understanding of nurses knowledge and skill when deciding to admit or not a person as an involuntary patient. Conclusion The concept of situation awareness provides a framework to better understand the decision-making process associated with the involuntary admission decision.