Independent Mental Health Advocacy


Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)

Independent Mental Health Advocacy was introduced under the Mental Health Act 2007. From April 2009 there has been a legal duty to provide Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs) for all eligible people. An IMHA is an independent advocate who is specially trained to work within the framework of the Mental Health Act 1983 to support people to understand their rights under the Act and participate in decisions about their care and treatment.

Who can be supported by an IMHA?

You are eligible for support from an IMHA if you are:

  • Detained under the Mental Health Act (even if they are currently on leave of absence from hospital)
  • A conditionally discharged restricted patient;
  • Subject to guardianship; or
  • Supervised community treatment (SCT)

You can also receive support from an IMHA if you are not covered by any of the above but are:

  • Being considered for a treatment to which section 57 applies (“a section 57 treatment”)
  • Under 18 and being considered for electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) or any other treatment to which section 58A applies (“a section 58A treatment”).

The role of an IMHA

Derbyshire Mind’s trained and qualified IMHAs can support you to understand:

  • Your rights under the Mental Health Act;
  • The rights which other people (nearest relatives) have in relation to you under the Act;
  • The particular parts of the Act which apply to you;
  • Any conditions or restrictions to which you are subject
  • Any medical treatment that you are receiving or might be given;
  • The reasons for that treatment (or proposed treatment); and
  • The legal authority for providing that treatment, and the safeguards and other requirements of the Act which would apply to that treatment.

Our IMHA can also support you to:

  • Explore options and make informed decisions
  • Help you put forward your views about your care and treatment
  • Be involved in the decisions that are made about your care and treatment
  • Support you at meetings and tribunals
  • Enable you to access specialist legal support

What rights do IMHAs have?


  • To have access to wards and units on which patients are resident
  • To meet patients in private unless the patient is under close observation or in seclusion, or clinical staff advise against it for reasons of the IMHA’s or the patient’s safety
  • Attend relevant meetings with staff at the request of the patient.
  • Visit and speak with any person who is currently professionally concerned with the patients treatmen
  • To access clinical and local authority records with the patients consent


The service is independent and free of charge


Further Information


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