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Independent Mental Health Advocacy

It is your right to be referred to an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) if you are detained under most sections of the Mental Health Act (MHA), whether you are in hospital or on a community treatment order (CTO).

IMHAs support people to understand their rights under the Act and participate in decisions about their care and treatment. IMHAs are independent from the hospital and mental health services. IMHAs can help you to understand your rights and have your voice heard.

An IMHA does not tell you what they would do, they help you to decide what you want. IMHA is a free and confidential service.

Am I eligible for support of an IMHA?

You are eligible for the support of an IMHA if you are:

  • Being detained under a Section of the MHA* or are on leave of absence from hospital
  • Conditionally discharged and restricted patients
  • Subject to Guardianship
  • On Supervised Community Treatment
  • Being considered for a section 57 treatment
  • Under 18 and being considered for a Section 58A treatment like electro-convulsive therapy

*This does not include emergency and short term detentions such as those made under Sections 4, 5(2), 5(4), 135 or 136

What can an IMHA do for me?

An IMHA can support you to:

  • Understand your rights and choices under the Mental Health Act
  • Be involved in decisions that affect you
  • Request a review of your section through access to a mental health tribunal
  • Understand how to raise concerns and complaints about your care or treatment in hospital
  • Find out information about your treatment
  • Prepare and support you at meetings
  • Be fully involved in your care planning and reviews
  • Meet with you in private
  • Access relevant records, including medical records, but only with your consent
  • Discuss your case with professionals involved in your treatment, but only with your consentFind out whether any conditions or restrictions apply to you

What rights does an IMHA have?

An IMHA is entitled to:

  • Meet with you in private
  • Access relevant records, including medical records, but only with your consent
  • Discuss your case with professionals involved in your treatment, but only with your consent

 How do I access the support from an IMHA in Cumbria?

If you believe you are eligible for the support of an IMHA, the organisation that provides the support in Cumbria is:

Your Voice, Carlisle and Eden Mind

Yes you are entitled to an IMHA. The IMHA service you are entitled to will be commissioned by the local authority where you are sectioned. Please contact us if you would like information on the IMHA service that covers your area.

Can an IMHA provide me with legal representation at my tribunal?

No, an IMHA cannot provide you with legal representation. They can provide you with a list of specialist Mental Health Solicitors to help you access legal support. An IMHA cannot recommend a particular legal firm.

Can an IMHA be my Nearest Relative?

No, an IMHA cannot be your nearest relative. An IMHA must be commissioned by the local authority to provide the service and is not the same as a friend, relative or carer.

Can an IMHA give me advice about my care and treatment?

No, an IMHA is not able to give you advice about care and treatment. IMHAs are not medical professionals. They can support you to find out the information you need by supporting you to ask questions and ask for a second opinion.

Did you find your question?

If you have a question and you did not find the answer in this section, please contact us and we will try our best to help you find the answer.

Useful Links

http://www.scie.org.uk/independent-mental-health-advocacy/resources-for-users/understanding/index.asp

http://www.scie.org.uk/independent-mental-health-advocacy/resources-for-users/understanding/index.asp