Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
If you are being detained under the Mental Health Act, you are legally entitled to help and support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate.
This page gives information about who can get support from an IMHA and the different eligibility criteria. You can find out how an IMHA can support you and download some useful self-help tools.
People who are treated under the Mental Health Act have the right to independent mental health advocacy (IMHA).
This applies to hospital patients and those who are on a Supervised Community Treatment Orders or under guardianship.
How can an IMHA help?
An IMHA is independent, they are not a member of the medical or social care team, and plays no part in your treatment and care.
These are some of the ways in which an IMHA might help you:
- Explaining and exercising your rights
- Request a review of your section through access to a mental health tribunal
- Understanding how to raise concerns about your experience and/or care in hospital
- Helping you to find out information about your treatment
- Preparing and supporting you at meetings, ward rounds or care reviews
- Being fully involved in your care planning
- Helping you to find out whether any conditions or restrictions apply to you
Find out who can get an IMHA. IMHA support is a statutory right for patients detained under the Mental Health Act. In certain other cases, individuals are also able to access IMHA services.
Patients who are entitled to an IMHA under the Mental Health Act (even if on leave of absence from the hospital) are:
- Conditionally discharged restricted patients
- Patients subject to guardianship or
- Supervised community treatment patient
Other patients (informal patients) are eligible if they are:
- Being considered for a treatment to which Section 57 applies
- Under 18 and being considered for ECT or any other treatment to which Section 58A applies
Which patients are not eligible for IMHA?
- Patients being detained on Section 4 until the second medical recommendation is received
- Patients under the holding powers of Section 5
- Patients in a place of safety under section 135 or 136.