My parents and sister were my speakers for me. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them and their strength and fighting attitude to get me help.
Even if you don't choose to call them your advocate, you may find that just talking to a family member, friend or a carer helps you work out what your questions and concerns are. If others want ideas about how to support you, you could show them our information on helping someone else.
I had one friend who helped me by just listening and never judging. Without him my recovery time would have been much longer.
If you appoint them under a lasting power of attorney, your friend or family member can act as your attorney if you lose mental capacity. They don't have to be a lawyer to do this, but they do have to be over 18 and be someone you trust to make decisions for you. (See our legal pages on mental capacity for more information.)
Can I be my own advocate?
Being able to speak up for yourself about what you want is sometimes described as 'self-advocacy'. But it's not always easy to do this when you have a mental health problem. Having another person act as your advocate doesn't have to mean you aren't ever able to stand up for yourself at all – but it can be really helpful to have this support when you're not well.
Whenever you feel ready, here are some steps you could take to feel more able to advocate for yourself:
- Build your self-esteem. Improving your self-esteem and building self-confidence can help you feel more assertive. You can find tips in our page on how to increase your self-esteem.
- Prepare for appointments. Do as much as you're able to prepare before talking to health and social care professionals. Our pages on talking to your GP and making yourself heard provide ideas for things you could try.
- Learn self-advocacy skills. Some organisations run training sessions and workshops to help you learn new skills to support yourself, such as CoolTan Arts and MindOut.
- Think about ways to deal with stigma. You can find some suggestions on our page on dealing with stigma.
You can learn more about self-advocacy from the Disability Rights UK website.
This information was published in March 2018 – to be revised in 2021. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.