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Advocacy Together - Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHA)

Statutory advocacy service for people detained or subject to restrictions under the Mental Health Act (MHA) 2007.

Our Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs) give information on, and help patients to understand, the legislation they are subject to and how this affects their lives. This may include the conditions or restrictions placed on them and their rights under the MHA 2007.

Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHA)

The service is a statutory form of advocacy which was introduced in 2009 as part of amendments to the Mental Health Act (2007). Anyone who is detained in a secure Mental Health setting, under the Act, is entitled to access support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA).                                           

Others who can access an IMHA service are those who have been provisionally discharged from hospital, those on supervised Community Treatment Orders (CTO), or voluntary patients who are considering serious medical treatment as a result of a Mental Health condition.                                                                

IMHA services provide an additional safeguard for patients who are subject to the Mental Health Act, and are specialist advocates who are trained to work within this framework. 

Who Is Eligible

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 patients

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

Patients not eligible for IMHA

  • Patients being detained on Section 4 until the second medical recommendation is received
  • Patient under the holding powers of Section 5
  • Patients in a place of safety under section 135 or 136

What does an IMHA do?

An IMHA’s role is to help patients to obtain information about and understand:

  • Their rights under the Act
  • The parts of the Act which apply to them
  • Medical treatment they are receiving or might receive
  • Reasons for that treatment
  • The rights which other people have in relation to them under the Act

An IMHA will support patients to exercise their rights, which can include representing or speaking on their behalf.

IMHA's may also support patients in a range of other ways to make sure they are involved in decisions that are made about their care and treatment for example:

  • Care planning process
  • Mental Health Review Tribunals
  • Negotiate appropriate aftercare
  • Access other support or services
  • Raising concerns about their experiences/care

IMHAs do not make decisions on behalf of the person they are representing. This is the responsibility of the ‘best interests decision maker’ or health professional responsible for the care of the patient.

IMHAs are there to make sure that people’s rights are understood and respected, and that their views and concerns are taken on board in the decision making process.

IMHA's are not:

  • Part of the multi-disciplinary team
  • Legal advisers
  • Medical experts
  • The same as family, carers of friends

Additional Information

Council Area
What areas of the city is this for?
People from anywhere in the city
What age groups is this for?
Anyone 18 or over
What groups of people is this for?
People with mental health issues
How much will it cost me?
When is this service open?
Call during office hours 9.00am - 5.00pm
Who can refer me to this service?
Self, friends, family and professionals. Call for more information
How can I access this service?
By referral


Advocacy Together Merseycare NHS Trust IMHA Services
Clock View Hospital
2a Oakhouse Park
L9 1EP

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