Advocacy in mental health

Explains what advocacy is and how it can help you. Gives information on different types of adovcacy, including statutory advocates, what sort of situations an advocate can help you with, and how to find an advocate.

Your stories

What does the Care Act mean for people with mental health problems?

Helen from our Policy and Campaigns team blogs about the implications of the Care Act.

Helen Undy, Senior Policy & Campaigns Officer
Posted on 23/05/2014

Having my voice heard made all the difference

Andy reflects on his year as a Voice of Mind and having his voice heard in the run up to the general election.

Andy Hollinghurst, Voice of Mind
Posted on 01/05/2015

The night I spent in a cell

Claire blogs about why a police cell was the last place she needed to be during a mental health crisis.

Posted on 27/11/2014

What is advocacy?

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.

Unfortunately, having a mental health problem can sometimes mean that your opinions and ideas are not always taken seriously, or that 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 health care professionals, or other professionals.

Meet the advocates of Bristol Mind who can tell you more about what they do. 

What does an advocate do?

How your advocate helps you is up to you – they're there to support your choices. For example, they can:

  • listen to your views and concerns
  • help you explore your options and rights (without advising you in any particular direction)
  • give you information to help you make informed decisions
  • help you contact relevant people, or contact them on your behalf
  • accompany and support you in meetings or appointments

An advocate will not:

  • give you their personal opinion
  • solve problems and make decisions for you
  • make judgements about you

For information about the sorts of problems advocates can help with, see our page on working with an advocate.

My best ever advocate could sit and listen to it all pour out, however ill I was. Then help me get it into words that the people I needed to listen would take seriously.

Phil's advocacy story

Phil and Tom have worked together on housing and benefits issues which have helped him stay well. 

Who can be my advocate?

There are lots of different kinds of advocate you could approach, depending on your situation and the kind of support you want. For example:

  • You can access a professional advocacy service through some organisations and charities.
  • Your friends, family, or carers can act as an advocate for you.
  • You can also be an advocate on your own behalf (called self-advocacy).

See our page on types of advocacy for more details about who can be an advocate, and how different advocacy services work.

Do I have a legal right to an advocate?

In some circumstances, you may be legally entitled to a professional advocate, such as an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) or an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) – this is called statutory advocacy. See our page on statutory advocacy for more information on whether this applies to you, and how to access this kind of advocacy.

Advocates are so important!... Mental illness at times can make it hard to do what needs to be done, [to] stand up for yourself, to be listened to or taken seriously.

This information was published in August 2015. We will revise it in 2017.

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