IMHA Resources

Most 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.

On this page you can find all the legislation relating to Independent Mental Health Advocacy, resources for social care professionals and for commissioners.

How can an IMHA help?

IMHAs typically support individuals to:

  • IMHA Referral Formunderstand their rights under the Mental Health Act
  • request a review of their section and access a mental health tribunal
  • raise concerns about their experience and/or care in hospital
  • find out information about their treatment
  • Prepare for and attend meetings 
  • be fully involved in their care planning
  • find out whether any conditions or restrictions apply to them
  • speak up at ward rounds or care reviews

Mental Health Legislation

Full Mental Health Act (1983).

The Mental Health Act 1983 (Independent Mental Health Advocates) (England) Regulations 2008. 

Mental Health Act 1983: revised code of practice - The Department of Health has published a revised code of practice for the Mental Health Act 1983 which shows professionals how to carry out their responsibilities under the Mental Health Act 1983, and provide high quality and safe care.

IMHA resources for social care staff - from SCIE

Understanding Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) for mental health staff

This briefing focuses on staff’s legal responsibilities, how they can support IMHA and the benefits for staff.


Social Care TV film: Understanding IMHA for mental health staff

The briefing above is supported by this accessible five minute film which focusses on mental health staff’s legal responsibilities to refer people for Independent mental health advocacy, how they can support advocates and the benefits for staff.


Improving access to Independent Mental Health Advocacy for providers of mental health services

This resource explains how mental health trusts can offer an opt-out IMHA service.

Measuring effectiveness and commissioning of IMHA - from SCIE

10 Top tips for commissioners:

Everything you need to know to commission high-quality IMHA services.


What does a good IMHA service look like?

This self-assessment tool allows IMHA providers to understand their strengths and also where they need to improve


Making a difference: measuring the impact of Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)

This report offers IMHA providers and commissioners an easy-to-understand introduction to measuring outcomes.

Mental Health Act Annual Reports - Care Quality Commission

Mental Health Act annual report 2015/16

'Monitoring the Mental Health Act', the annual report on the use of the Mental Health Act (MHA), looks at how providers are caring for patients, and whether patient’s rights are being protected.

Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) services are an important safeguard for detained patients. However, we found that many local authorities are not conducting a needs assessment before commissioning these services. This is worrying and could mean that not everyone who needs it has access to an advocate. We are also concerned that we are still seeing examples of poor practice in restrictive practices, particularly seclusion and long-term segregation.

A key finding from the report