Advocacy

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 are IMHAs in Wales?

Note: This page is about Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs) in Wales. If you are in England, see our page on IMHAs (England).

This page covers:

See our page on terms you need to know about sectioning for a glossary of legal terms used in this page.

When am I entitled to an IMHA?

In Wales, you have the right to an IMHA if you are a “qualifying compulsory patient” or a “qualifying informal patient”.

You are a qualifying compulsory patient if:

You are a qualifying informal patient if:

What is a qualifying compulsory patient or a qualifying informal patient?
Being a qualifying compulsory patient or a qualifying informal patient means that you have met the requirements listed above. As a qualifying compulsory or qualifying informal patient, you have a legal right to support from an IMHA. You can’t, for example, be told that there is no IMHA service in your area, as every Local Health Board has a legal obligation to ensure that there is provision in place.

If you are a qualifying compulsory patient or qualifying informal patient and you have been denied the support of an IMHA, you should seek legal advice from a mental health or community care solicitor. See Citizens Advice's page on using a solicitor for more information on how to find a solicitor and how to work with one.

How can an IMHA help me?

For qualifying compulsory patients

An IMHA can help you understand:

  • your rights under the Mental Health Act 1983 and why certain decisions have been made
  • the rights which other people (such as your nearest relative) have in relation to you under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • the parts of the Mental Health Act 1983 which apply to you (such as the basis on which you are detained) and make you eligible for an IMHA
  • any conditions or restrictions to which you are subject (for example, relating to leave of absence from hospital or a CTO)
  • any medical treatment that you are receiving or might be given, including:
    • the reasons for that treatment or proposed treatment
    • the legal basis for providing that treatment
    • the safeguards and other requirements of the Mental Health Act 1983 which would apply to that treatment

On a practical level, an IMHA can help you:

  • exercise your rights under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • express your views about your care and treatment
  • raise concerns or make a complaint about your care or treatment
  • explore alternatives to the proposed treatment
  • enforce your rights and get what you are entitled to
  • make an application to the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales
  • present your views and support you at a hearing before the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales
  • access legal advice and representation
  • by representing you and speaking on your behalf – for example at review meetings or hospital managers’ hearings
  • understand and follow up any decisions or directions made by the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales or hospital managers
  • make an application to displace your nearest relative
  • access your medical or other records (see our pages on personal information for more information on what your rights are regarding your records)
  • in relation to arrangements made for your aftercare (see our pages on aftercare for more information)

For qualifying informal patients

An IMHA can help you understand:

  • any medical treatment that you are receiving or might be given
  • the reasons for that treatment or proposed treatment
  • the legal basis for providing that treatment

On a practical level, an IMHA can:

  • accompany you to meetings about your care and treatment
  • help you express your views about your care and treatment
  • help you make a complaint about your care or treatment
  • help you access legal advice

What should my IMHA be able to do?

Your IMHA should be able to:

  • access the ward or unit where you are staying
  • meet with you in private, unless you object or it is otherwise inappropriate (for example, if you pose a risk to the IMHA's safety)
  • accompany you to meetings with professionals involved in your care and treatment when you ask them to
  • see any medical, social services or other records about your detention, treatment and aftercare (an IMHA can only do this with your consent, unless you lack capacity to consent)
  • meet and talk to anyone who is professionally involved with your medical treatment

How can I access an IMHA?

You can request support from an IMHA at any time after you become a qualifying compulsory patient or qualifying informal patient. You can ask:

Whilst in hospital, you should have access to a telephone which you can use to contact an IMHA and talk to them in private.

Can other people ask an IMHA to visit me?

If you are a qualifying compulsory patient, the following people can also ask an IMHA to visit you:

  • your nearest relative
  • an AMHP
  • your responsible clinician
  • the hospital managers
  • a social worker involved with your care, treatment or assessment
  • your donee or deputy (if you have one). (A donee is another word for an attorney appointed in a lasting power of attorney.)

If you are a qualifying informal patient, the following people can also ask an IMHA to visit you:

  • your carer
  • the hospital managers
  • a social worker involved with your care, treatment or assessment
  • your donee or deputy (if you have one). (A donee is another word for an attorney appointed in a lasting power of attorney.)

It is important to remember that you do not have to see an IMHA if you don’t wish to and that IMHAs support patients, not nearest relatives or carers.

 


This information was published in October 2017 – to be revised in 2020. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.


Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z

Training

Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today