Independent Mental Health Act Advocacy

Neil* is an older gentleman with schizophrenia who was detained at hospital under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act. Neil was unhappy at being in hospital and felt as though he did not have a mental illness, nor did he require any treatment.

Initially Neil declined the advocacy service, but after months of continuing to offer our support Neil began to accept the help of an advocate. Soon Neil began to build trust with his advocate and understood that they were completely independent to other services and professionals. Neil and his advocate prepared for monthly ward round reviews by making a list of requests ahead of the meeting. The advocate then supported Neil during these meetings and followed this up with a de-brief about what went well, and how it could have gone better.

How we supported Neil

Neil was also supported by his advocate to appeal his section on a number of occasions. The advocate helped Neil prepare for the appeal hearings by showing him the evidence that the staff had prepared and asking him for his views on his treatment.

Neil was clear that he did not want his family to find out where he was, so his advocate supported him to understand his rights in relation to GDPR and information sharing so that he could have an insight into how the hospital use and share his data.

Neil had a number of discharge planning meetings where he was supported by his advocate.  After about 18 months in the hospital Neil was discharged to a placement of his choosing in his local area.

The advocate worked with Neil over a long period of time and this helped him understand that the advocate was acting independently and could help him in challenging health and social care professionals. The advocate worked with Neil to develop his self-advocacy skills and understand his rights relating to the Mental Health Act, so that he could self-advocate in future.

This case study demonstrates the importance of our independence when building trust in the advocacy relationship. Despite Neil not being open to our support initially, by explaining our role and emphasising our independence from other professionals, Neil felt able to trust us and to access our service which helped him to achieve his desired outcomes of being discharged and moving to his chosen area.

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