Explains what advocacy is and how it can help you. Gives information on different types of advocacy, including statutory advocates, what sort of situations an advocate can help you with, and how to find an advocate.
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 working with an advocate for examples of situations an advocate can support you with.
You can find out more about community advocacy services from organisations such as:
There are also charities and organisations which support specific groups and may be able to offer you advocacy services. For example:
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:
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.
Friends, family or carers can be an advocate for you, if you want them to. It can be really helpful to get support from someone close to you, who you trust.
However, it's important to be aware that being your advocate is a different kind of relationship to being your friend or family member, and may be challenging at times. You might want to agree with them beforehand what you both understand the role to mean, and what both your boundaries are.
"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."
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:
You can learn more about self-advocacy from the Disability Rights UK website.
This information was published in March 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.