Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)

We provide the IMHA service for people who need support with their rights under the mental health act in Guild Lodge, Preston. 

This page gives information about who can get support from an IMHA, and how an IMHA can support you.

What is an IMHA?

If you are being detained under a Mental Health Section, you are legally entitled to help and support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate.*

Advocates can support you with understanding and getting information about your rights under the Act, the parts of the Act that apply to you, and the medical treatments you may be given.

*Exclusions Apply; contact the VoiceAbility team to find out more.

How is the advocacy service delivered?

  • Advocates have a regular presence on each unit/ward.
  • Advocates make regular proactive approaches to all patients.
  • We provide a reactive service and respond to your requests for advocacy support.
  • We either facilitate regular group advocacy meetings and/or raise collective issues on their behalf.
  • The service is optional and patients can choose not to engage with it.

We will:

  • Listen carefully to what you tell us about your views and feelings.
  • Support you to speak up, or speak up on your behalf if needed.
  • Make sure you are fully involved in decisions being made about you.
  • Close your case when the work is finished.

An IMHA can support you with:

  • Being fully involved in your care planning.
  • Your access to Mental Health Review Tribunals, preparing for them and understanding decisions made.
  • Your access to other support or services.
  • Liaising with external agencies such as solicitors.
  • Discussing appropriate aftercare.
  • How to raise concerns about your experience/care.
  • Exercising your rights.

The IMHA service is

  • Free
  • Independent
  • Confidential

Who can get an IMHA?

We offer IMHA as well as non-instructed advocacy and group advocacy in Mersey Care and Guild Lodge* if you are:

  • Conditionally discharged or a restricted patient.
  • Subject to Guardianship under the Mental Health Act.
  • On a Supervised Community Treatment Order.
  • Being considered for serious treatment such as Neurosurgery.
  • Someone under the age of 18 being considered for electro-convulsive therapy.

*These services are commissioned by the NHS rather than the local authorities so we are only commissioned to work with people who are detained under a Mental Health Act section at these secure hospitals.

How do I find an IMHA?

Staff have a duty to make sure you understand that help is available to you from IMHA services and how you can get that help.

If you do choose to work with an IMHA, you have a right to end that support at any time you wish to.

You can contact us directly on the details at the top of the page or you can speak to us confidentially when we visit your ward.