What is an IMHA

Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) was introduced by the Government to provide a statutory (legally required) source of independent help for people subject to the Mental Health Act.

For patients who are under this act, being involved or participating in making decisions about treatment and care may be difficult. Some people feel that decisions are being made on their behalf over which they have little say or control.

The IMHA Service exists to provide people with reliable independent support in getting information and knowledge regarding their rights as a patient.

The IMHAs are specifically trained and work independently of the NHS or Local Authority.



The IMHA Role

Any person has a statutory right to speak with an IMHA if they:

  • Are detained (sectioned) under the Mental Health Act.
  • Are subject to a Guardianship Order under the Mental Health Act.
  • Will be conditionally discharged from hospital.
  • Will be discharged from hospital with a Community Treatment Order (CTO).
  • Are under 18 years of age and are being considered for Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT).

If any of these points apply to you, you are legally entitled to support from an IMHA.

The IMHA will advise you of your rights in relation to the Mental Health Act and can explain treatments and terminology to make sure you are fully informed about your care and treatment.


What might I see and IMHA for?

For example, you may want to see an IMHA:

  • Soon after arrival to an inpatient unit and you are uncertain about your rights.
  • When you have concerns or questions about aspects of your care and treatment.
  • When you wish to apply for a Tribunal or Managers Hearing and need to find a legal representative (solicitor) for this.
  • If you are considered for Community Treatment and you are unsure what this means for you.
  • You didn’t understand what your doctor said to you.
  • You want support to talk to your doctor about your care and treatment at the next ward round meeting and would like some support to do so.
  • You wish to make a complaint.


How Do I see an IMHA?

You can ring 01934 417362 and ask to speak to an advocate, if none is available leave a message and you will be contacted as soon as possible. You may also contact by email or letter, if you have any specialist communication needs such as translation into another language or signing please advise us on first contact.