An advocate is someone who can both listen to you and speak for you in times of need.
Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people are able to speak out, to express their views and defend their rights. In its simplest form, advocacy can mean just listening respectfully to someone.
Having a mental health problem, or experiencing mental distress, can mean that your opinions and ideas are not taken seriously, or that you are not offered the opportunities and choices you would like.
Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to:
- Express their views and concerns
- Access information and services
- Defend and promote their rights and responsibilities
- Explore choices and options
An advocate might help you access information you need, or go with you to meetings or interviews in a supportive role. In some cases, you might want your advocate to be more active. An advocate might write letters on your behalf, or speak for you in situations where you don’t feel able to speak for yourself.
Friends, family and mental health professionals can all be supportive and helpful, but this may be difficult for them if you are doing things they disagree with, even though it’s what you want. Health and social services staff have a ‘duty of care’ to the people they work with, which means that they can’t support you in doing things that they think will be bad for you. But an advocate is independent, and will represent your wishes without judging them or putting forward their own personal opinion.
Our advocates work with people in their local communities and in hospital settings. This includes delivery of Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA). We also offer specialist Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA), Paid Representation and Care Act Advocacy. More detail about this often complex area can be accessed by clicking on the links to the left.