We all know how frustrating it can be when people aren't listening to us. Unfortunately, having a mental health problem can sometimes mean it's even harder to have your opinions and ideas taken seriously by others. This can be very difficult to deal with, especially when you need to communicate frequently with health and social care professionals. You might find they don't always offer you all the opportunities and choices you would like, or involve you fully in decisions about your care.

What is advocacy?

It means getting support from another person to help you express your views and wishes, and help you stand up for your rights. Someone who helps you in this way is called your advocate.

All our advocates are here to give you a guiding hand and make sure you have access to all of the information you need and that you’re getting the best possible care for you.

We'll always listen to your needs and concerns and put you first. That's the way it should be.

Our advocates

There are different types of advocates:

Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA)

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 have in relation to you under the Mental Health Act 1983, any conditions, or restrictions you are subject to (for example, relating to leave of absence from hospital). An IMHA can support you to exercise your rights under the Mental Health Act 1983 and express your views about your care and treatment.

Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)

These advocates are a safeguard for people who lack capacity to make some important decisions. The IMCA role is to support and represent the person in the decision-making process and make sure that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is being followed.

Paid Relevant Persons Representative (RPR)

The role of a Relevant Person's Representative s imaintain contact with the person and to represent and support them in all matters relating to the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS). This support has to be completely independent from the providers of the services they are receiving.

A Care Act Advocate (CAA)

The Care Act says that local councils must involve people in decisions about their care and support needs. If it would be difficult for someone to be involved without support the council must make sure they get the help they need. If the person doesn’t have someone who can help them they have the right to have an independent Care Act advocate.

A Non-Statutory (General) Advocate (NSA)

Non statutory or General advocates can support anyone to navigate through the heath and social care system. Help them to have their voice heard and make sure their views, wishes and opinions are listened too. This does not include benefit support.

Who is this service for?

We have different types of advocates for different types of people. 

Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA)

You have a right to access an IMHA if you are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983, except where:

  • You have been detained in an emergency under section 4
  • You are detained under section 5 holding powers
  • You have been taken to a place of safety under section 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act

Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)

An independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) must be instructed for people in the following circumstances:

• The person is aged 16 or over
• A decision needs to be made about either a long-term change in accommodation or serious medical treatment
• The person lacks capacity to make that decision, and
• There is no one independent of services, such as a family member or friend, who is “appropriate to consult”

An IMCA may also be provided to people for other decisions concerning Care Reviews, or Adult Protection. In adult protection cases an IMCA may be instructed even where family members or others are available to be consulted.

Care Act Advocate (CAA)

Care Act advocates can support:

• Adults who need care and support
• Carers
• Children who are moving to adult care services

If the council is making decisions about your care and support, they must consider whether you would have ‘substantial difficulty’ being involved. Substantial difficulty would be if you have problems with one or more of these:

• Understanding information about the decisions
• Remembering information
• Using the information to be involved in the decisions
• Being able to tell people your views, wishes and feeling

Paid Relevant Persons Representative (RPR)

If you or your family member lacks mental capacity to agree to care they receive in a care home or hospital and are given a deprivation of liberty authorisation (DOLS) the local authority must appoint an RPR if no one (such as family) is able to act as the RPR then the local authority must appoint a paid RPR (PRPR).

A Non-Statutory (General) Advocate (NSA)

Anyone who needs help and support to have their views heard in regards to health and social care.

How can I access this service?

If you are Age 18 to 49, Age 50 and over, Age under 18, living in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, you can access this service by
Telephone: 0300 303 8037

What happens next?

All referrals to our Advocacy service must go through the People First Independent Advocacy Hub.

You can contact them yourself on 03003 038 037 or ask a hospital staff member, a relative or another professional to contact them.

When you speak to them you can request an Advocate from Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind.

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