Independent Mental Health Advocacy
Who might need this: people detained under the Mental Health Act; people on a Supervised Community Treatment Order; people who’ve been conditionally discharged; people who are subject to a Guardianship Order.
Independent Mental Health Advocates are also known as IMHAs. They’re specially trained to support people with decisions about mental health care and treatment.
It’s a statutory service. This means that, under the Mental Health Act, the NHS and private care providers must provide people with information about their right to an IMHA. They should also make referrals to the service if someone wants or needs an advocate.
How independent mental health advocates can help
- Talking to people about how the Mental Health Act affects them, including any conditions and restrictions
- Helping them understand their rights and how to exercise them
- Explaining what rights other people have under the Mental Health Act (for example, nearest relatives)
- Accessing free legal support to help people appeal to a Mental Health Review Tribunal
- Supporting individuals to voice their views, wishes and feelings about their mental health care and treatment.
- Attending meetings (for example ward reviews, multidisciplinary reviews, discharge planning meetings)
- Making a complaint or raising a concern about someone’s care and treatment
- Accessing records about care and treatment
- If people can’t tell their advocate what they want, it’s not a problem. Our advocates will find different ways of working to help establish people’s views and wishes as far as possible so that their rights can be upheld. We call this ‘non-instructed advocacy'
Who can make a referral?
- The individual wanting support
- The nearest relative
- The Mental Health Act office
- Hospital Ward staff
- Responsible Clinicians
- Community Mental Health Teams