Support if you’re detained (‘sectioned’)

It was a breath of fresh air to feel like the labels didn’t matter and I was being heard.

Bea, who used our services

The law says that when you are detained under the Mental Health Act (“sectioned”), you have the right to help from an advocate.

The only exception to this is if you are detained under one of these short term sections: 4, 5, 135, or 136.

How an advocate can help

An advocate is an independent professional who is on your side. They can support you to have your say and know your rights.

They are on your side and don’t work for the hospital or the NHS. You don’t need to pay for an advocate.

The type of advocate you can get is called an Independent Mental Health Advocate’. This is sometimes shortened to IMHA’.

What does an advocate do?

An advocate can help you to:

  • understand your rights
  • understand your treatment and the reasons for it
  • say what care or treatment you want – and what you don’t want
  • talk to your care team about your needs
  • have your say at meetings about your care and treatment
  • speak to staff about any worries or problems you have
  • request leave if you are entitled to it

Advocates help to make sure that doctors listen to you. This does not mean that doctors will always do everything you want them to. But your advocate will be on your side.

If you are unhappy about your care

If you don’t agree that you should be in hospital, it’s important to speak to an advocate as soon as you arrive.

Advocates can help you to:

  • get a solicitor, who may be able to help you appeal your section
  • prepare for Mental Health Tribunals and Hospital Managers’ Meetings
  • complain if you are unhappy with your care or treatment

How to get an advocate

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

Our advocates visit mental health wards on a regular basis and by law, hospital staff must make sure you have access to an advocate.

To get an advocate, talk to hospital staff, talk to an advocate when they visit your ward, or contact your local advocacy provider.

Download the information on this page