Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
If you are being detained under the Mental Health Act, you are legally entitled to help and support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate.
This page gives information about who can get support from an IMHA and the different eligibility criteria. You can find out how an IMHA can support you and download some useful self-help tools.
People who are treated under the Mental Health Act have the right to independent mental health advocacy (IMHA).
This applies to hospital patients and those who are on a Supervised Community Treatment Orders or under guardianship.*
*Exclusions apply. Find out who can get an IMHA.
How can an IMHA help?
An IMHA is independent, they are not a member of the medical or social care team, and plays no part in your treatment and care.
These are some of the ways in which an IMHA might help you:
- Explaining and exercising your rights
- Request a review of your section through access to a mental health tribunal
- Understanding how to raise concerns about your experience and/or care in hospital
- Helping you to find out information about your treatment
- Preparing and supporting you at meetings, ward rounds or care reviews
- Being fully involved in your care planning
- Helping you to find out whether any conditions or restrictions apply to you
Further information and Self Help Tools
Guidance from VoiceAbility
NHS England - Your rights under the Mental Health Act
The NHS have leaflets to explain in detail what information you should get:
- if you are sectioned
- what health professionals should or shouldn't do
- what your rights and choices are
You can read these leaflets here: Mental Health services explained
Guidance from SCIE
- Understanding Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) for people who use services: A simple overview of the legal right to advocacy and what advocates do.
- Understanding Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) for people who use services – Easy read: Easy read version of overview of the legal right to advocacy and what advocates do.
- Social Care TV film: Understanding IMHA for service users: This highly accessible five-minute film is aimed at service users. (Subtitled, audio described and British sign language versions available).
Community Language Leaflets
Please use one of the links below to download information about our IMHA services in English and other languages:
How can I contact an IMHA?
We provide IMHA in the following areas.
Click your area to see the contact details and referral form for your local VoiceAbility team.
- Cambridgeshire & Peterborough
- London Borough of Brent
- London Borough of Harrow
- London Borough of Hounslow
- London Borough of Lewisham
- London Borough of Newham
- London Borough of Redbridge
- Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin
- Warwickshire and Coventry
If your area is not listed above, it means that we don't provide IMHA in your area. Your local council will be able to tell you which organisation offers IMHA in your area.