Advocacy services can help you express your views and get your voice heard.

​Advocacy means getting support from another person to help you express your views and wishes, and to help make sure your voice is heard. Someone who helps you in this way is called your advocate.

Advocates are not experts or another professional, they are ordinary people who will spend time working with you and listening. They will help you speak for yourself or may speak for you.

Unfortunately, if you have mental health problem it can sometimes mean your opinions and ideas are not always taken seriously, or you are not always offered all the opportunities and choices you would like. This can be difficult to deal with, especially when you need to communicate regularly with healthcare professionals or other professionals.

What is an independent mental health advocate?
Independent mental health advocates are specialist advocates who are trained to work within the Mental Health Act to meet the needs of people detained under the act. Independent mental health advocates are completely independent of professionals who provide care and treatment for people.

What is an independent mental capacity advocate?
An independent mental capacity advocate is someone instructed to support and represent a person who lacks capacity to make certain serious decisions. Advocates need to be approved by the local authority to undertake their role, which is to gather information, provide support to the person concerned and make representations about that person's wishes, feelings, beliefs and values, at the same time as bringing to the attention of the decision maker all factors relevant to the decision. They will also be able to challenge the decision maker.

Independent mental capacity advocacy
The independent mental capacity advocate service is a new statutory advocacy service introduced in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and developed further by regulations.

The purpose of the independent mental capacity advocate service is to help particularly vulnerable people who lack the capacity to make important decisions about serious medical treatment and changes of accommodation. It is available to those people who have no family or friends whom it would be appropriate to consult about those decisions. The service was extended by the regulation to include two further situations – adult protection cases and care reviews – where an independent mental capacity advocate may be instructed.

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