What is Mental Health Advocacy? 

An advocate, including a residential visiting advocate, is an independent person who supports another individual to express their views, wishes and feelings, making sure their voice is heard when important decisions are being made that will impact their care and their lives. 

Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHA) are advocates who undertake specialist training in legislation relating to the Mental Health Act, ensuring they can fully support adults and young people being cared for under this act. They are fully independent of the inpatient setting and always on the side of the service user.


Inpatient settings provided with mental health advocacy services.


People supported with mental health advocacy in 2023.


Specific issues supported by mental health advocacy in 2024 (Jan to June).


Adults and young people supported by mental health advocacy in 2023.

What Does an Independent Mental Health Advocate Do?

Admission to an inpatient setting can be very challenging. An Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) will work with patients who are sectioned under the Mental Health Act to uphold their rights and ensure their voices are heard when important decisions are being made that will impact their care. This may include:

  • Providing clarity on what it means to be detained under the Mental Health Act, including what rights a patient has.
  • Supporting with applications to the Mental Health Tribunal.
  • Clarifying any conditions or restrictions which apply, such as whether a patient can leave the hospital.
  • Explaining what medical treatment is, or may be provided, and why.
  • Attending meetings to make sure the voice of the patient is clearly heard, and their wishes respected wherever possible.  

What Inpatient Settings Does NYAS Work In?

NYAS works in partnership with private health providers and NHS trusts across England and Wales. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) and adult units.
  • Low/medium secure hospitals.
  • Locked rehabilitation.
  • Open rehabilitation.
  • Forensic settings.
  • PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Units).
  • ED (Eating Disorder) units.
  • Community homes and ‘Step-down’ units.

We take great pride in guaranteeing continuity and reliability within our mental health services. Regardless of setting, we are committed to ensuring the same advocate(s) visit each week to build trust and rapport with both patients and staff. Additionally, NYAS is committed to delivering service user participation groups, co-producing innovative solutions that shape future advocacy delivery.

Further Questions

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