Independent Mental Health Act Advocacy

Chris* was detained in hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act due to concerns around his safety. When the advocate first met with Chris, he expressed that he felt that he was not being listened to and felt that people were “talking about me and not to me” – he did not feel in control of his situation. Chris was confused about the reasons why he was in hospital and did not understand the diagnosis he had been given as he had previously been diagnosed differently. Chris did not fully understand his rights or what could happen in the future and he did not feel he needed to be in hospital.

How we supported Chris

The advocate supported Chris to understand his rights, including his rights to appeal his section. The advocate provided Chris with information in a manner which enabled him to understand it and informed him of what might happen next. Chris was confused about his new diagnosis and did not understand it, so the advocate was able to provide him with this information in a written format which made it easier for Chris to process it.

Further, the advocate liaised with staff to request that they provide Chris with the reasons for him being detained in hospital and to request that he have access to his care plan to help him understand his diagnosis and treatment plan. The advocate then supported Chris in his ward rounds and within his care programme approach meetings (CPAs). The advocate would meet with Chris prior to the meeting and support him to create an agenda of the things he wanted to discuss. During the meetings, the advocate supported and encouraged Chris to self-advocate and raise the items on his agenda. The advocate met with Chris following his meetings to allow him to debrief and share how he felt things had gone.

Chris was able to discuss things that were important to him and told his advocate he felt listened to and felt in control of his meetings. Towards the end of the advocate’s involvement Chris expressed that he no longer needed advocacy support within meetings and felt confident to attend meetings by himself. Chris was discharged from hospital with a small package of care and with the option of respite.

Through advocacy support prior to and during his meetings, Chris felt empowered to raise issues for himself and ultimately developed his self-advocacy skills which he will be able to rely on in future.

Chris has said “thank you for all the support” and for providing “information around my diagnosis which helped me understand it”. Chris said that he appreciated the advocacy service as there was someone who was “separate and who can help me understand and who is on my side”.

This case study is an excellent example of how sometimes people only need a small amount of advocacy input to enable them to access the information and gain the confidence to self-advocate.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people we support