Advocacy can be helpful in all kinds of situations when you are finding it difficult to have your opinions and choices heard. This page covers:
What advocacy services are there?
There are lots of different advocacy services that can help you, depending on your situation and what sort of help you want.
|Community advocacy services
Community advocacy refers to all advocacy that is not a legal entitlement. It can support you to cope with a range of situations you may come across in your daily life. See our page on how you can work with an advocate for examples of situations an advocate can support you with.
You can find out more about community advocacy services from organisations like:
|Advocacy for a specific cause
There are also charities and organisations which support a specific cause and may be able to offer you advocacy if your problem is related to their cause. For example:
- Shelter offers advocacy for people experiencing housing problems.
- Coram Voice offers mental health advocacy for young people in care.
|Group advocacy (also known as collective advocacy)
This is where a group of people with similar experiences meet to support each other and collectively strengthen their voice. You can find more information from:
Peer advocates have lived experience of a mental health problem and can support you to cope with a range of problems you may be experiencing. You can find more information from:
In some circumstances, you may be legally entitled to an advocate. These are Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs), Independent Mental Capacity Adovcates (IMCAs) and advocates supporting people under the Care Act 2014. See our page on statutory advocacy for more information.
See our page on how to find an advocate for more information.
Can my family, friends or carer be my advocate?
If you're not able to get support from an advocacy service, you may be able to get support from someone close to you, who you trust. Friends, family or carers can be an advocate for you, if you want them to. They can help you feel reassured and supported by:
- discussing treatment options with you
- helping you to find information
- coming with you to appointments
- making phone calls for you
- encouraging you and helping you to feel more confident about making decisions
- acting as your attorney if you appoint them under a lasting power of attorney. 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 if you lose capacity. See our pages on lasting power of attorney, and mental capacity for more information.
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.
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 your family and friends want ideas about how to support you, you could show them our page on helping someone else seek support.
I had one friend who helped me by just listening and never judging. Without him my recovery time would have been much longer.
Can I be my own advocate?
You can act as your own advocate if you want. This is called self-advocacy. Self-advocacy is about learning skills and building confidence to have a stronger voice for yourself.
Some organisations run training sessions teaching self-advocacy skills, such as:
You can also contact organisations that can give you more information about setting up a self-advocacy group in your area, such as:
Having hidden my issues for so long it was incredibly powerful and extremely humbling to have other people talk about their deepest darkest fears.
This information was published in August 2015. We will revise it in 2017.