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Advocacy in mental health

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.

What can an advocate help me with?

How you work with an advocate is up to you. Depending on what type of advocacy you access, and what sort of issues you'd like support in handling, an advocate can be involved in different ways. For example, an advocate could support you with:

Do I need an advocate to complain about my treatment?

You don't need to have an advocate to make a complaint about your care or treatment, however if you want help, there are advocacy services to help you do this. See our pages on complaining about health and social care and facing and overcoming barriers for more information.

I've found that having my husband in the room with me during assessment appointments means my concerns and questions are more likely to be taken seriously and treated respectfully.

Health and social care appointments

You may have a GP or doctor's appointment you want support with, or you may want support accessing treatment. An advocate can come with you to appointments or help you communicate with your doctor, whether by phone, letter or in person.

Our page on talking to your GP has more tips.

My sister has acted as a mouthpiece for me when I couldn't talk to doctors or psychiatrists about things that were really disturbing me... I would never have got the help I needed without her.

Paul's advocacy story

Paul and his advocate were able to get him better support from his community psychiatric nurse (CPN).

Workplace disputes

An advocate can support you by helping you understand your rights in the workplace. In some situations, for example, if you feel you are being discriminated against because of your mental health problem, they might be able to speak with your employer on your behalf, or support you during meetings.

See our legal pages on discrimination at work for more information about your rights in the workplace, and our pages on how to be mentally healthy at work for general information.

Benefit claims and appointments

You may need to:

  • make a benefit claim
  • attend a Work Capability Assessment (WCA)
  • appeal a benefit claim that has been turned down.

An advocate can:

  • help you understand your welfare rights
  • support you to claim benefits you're entitled to
  • make phone calls
  • attend appointments with you
  • help you understand the process of challenging a claim.

Your local Mind and Citizens Advice can also offer you support and information.

I had my support worker attend work meetings and my [Work Capability] Assessment... I found it extremely difficult to talk to anyone about how I felt and having someone other than a family member in your corner is a godsend.

Housing problems

If you have a housing problem, such as rent arrears, you may feel you need help managing it. An advocate could help you understand your rights around housing and help you talk with local authorities.

Shelter and Groundswell offer advocacy services for people experiencing housing problems. Shelter also have a helpline and run face-to-face advice centres in the UK.

You can find more information on dealing with housing problems in our pages on housing and mental health.

My local Mind has been great, often helping me to plan what I need to say in a phone call, then sitting with me while I make the calls.

This information was published in March 2018.

This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published. 

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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