Right to be free from discrimination
Under the Human Rights Act, everyone has the right to be free from being discriminated against for reasons including race, sex, religion, health and disability.
The role of advocacy is to support people to say what they want, secure their rights, and represent their interests.
Independent Mental Health Advocates (or IMHAs) are specialist advocates who work with people who are detained under some sections of the Mental Health Act, and certain other people. They help the detained person to understand their rights, any conditions or restrictions they are subjected to and any medical treatment they are receiving or might be given, along with the reasons for the treatment. The people they are supporting will have been assessed as having a mental health disorder, but as we’ve already noted, someone should not be discriminated against because of their health status.
How we help protect Human Rights
Susan*, receiving care in a local mental health facility, asked Bob*, one of our IMHAs, for support. She wanted to stop having her mental health medication injection and felt that the person coordinating her care was not listening to her.
Susan was very anxious and Bob had many phone calls and visits with her to help her make a plan of action. They agreed that Bob would first talk to the care coordinator to put Susan's views forward.
The care coordinator said he was worried that Susan would become unwell if the medication was stopped and said he needed to ask for advice from medical professionals who were involved in her care. When he had met with the medics, the care coordinator rang Bob and said he wanted to meet with Susan to talk in person.
Susan asked that Bob join the meeting to support her, and the two of them met beforehand so Susan could put together a list of what she wanted to say. She was then able to put forward her views in the meeting with the care coordinator.
Following the meeting, it was agreed that Suan would be taken off her medication injection and discharged from mental health services. She was very happy with the outcome and said she would not have had the confidence to do this without someone supporting her.
Bob's support ensured that Susan was listened to and not discriminated against because of her assessed mental health disorder.