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Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)

Support under the Mental Health Act

Without my advocate, I could never have achieved the outcome I wanted.

Jerome, who met with an advocate

Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs) support people with issues relating to their mental health care and treatment. They also help people understand their rights under the Mental Health Act.

Who can get an advocate?

Advocates can support people who are

  • detained under the Mental Health Act (except under short term sections 4, 5, 135 and 136)
  • conditionally discharged restricted patients
  • subject to a Community Treatment Order
  • subject to guardianship
  • being considered for S57 or S58A treatment, or Electro-Convulsive Therapy

People can refer themselves or ask a professional to make the referral.

How an advocate can help

An advocate can support a person to

  • understand their rights and options
  • have their views and wishes heard in decisions about their care or treatment
  • raise anything they are unhappy with relating to their care or treatment

When to speak to an advocate

You can get help from an advocate at any time you want to during your treatment.

If you don’t agree that you should be in hospital, it’s important to speak to an advocate as soon as you arrive. This is because there is sometimes a time limit for making an appeal. It depends on your section. Your advocate will tell you if this is the case for you.

If you are unhappy about your treatment, an advocate can support you to

  • tell doctors what you want during ward rounds
  • speak to staff about any worries or problems you have
  • request leave if you are entitled to it
  • appeal your section
  • get a solicitor
  • prepare for Mental Health Tribunals
  • complain if you feel you are being treated badly

You can ask the hospital staff to contact an advocate for you, or contact us directly.

Download the information on this page