Independent Mental Health Advocacy

From the 1st April 2009 new legislation came into effect under amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 (the Act) introduced by the Mental Health Act 2007. This placed a duty on the responsible individual and/or body to provide certain qualifying patients with information regarding the availability of their local IMHA Service. The IMHA Service in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is provided by Asist. Please note that the duty is to provide information and patients may choose not to be referred to the IMHA Service.

Persons who qualify for the IMHA Service are:

• Being detained under a Section of the MHA* or are on leave of absence from hospital
• Conditionally discharged and restricted patients
• Subject to Guardianship
• On Supervised Community Treatment
• Being considered for a section 57 treatment
• Under 18 and being considered for a Section 58A treatment like electro-convulsive therapy

*This does not include emergency and short term detentions such as those made under Sections 4, 5(2), 5(4), 135 or 136

The IMHA is entitled to:

• Facilities to meet with the patient in private
• Access relevant records, including medical records, but only with the consent of the patient
• Discuss the patient with professionals involved in their treatment

An IMHA can support a patient by:

• Assisting them to understand their rights and the rights others have in relation to them
• Assisting them to find information, including information about any treatment and the legal authority for providing that treatment
• Supporting them to have a voice in decisions affecting them by supporting them to speak out, or by representing their views, choices and opinions

An IMHA is not:

• Part of the team that will make decisions about a person’s detention and/or treatment
• A crisis or emergency worker
• A legal advisor, lawyer or medical expert
• The same as a friend, relative or carer

Making a referral to the IMHA Service

You can make a referral to the IMHA Service by the following methods:

Other useful information

The Department of Health has provided a useful ‘Myth Buster’ document which addresses some common misconceptions regarding the IMHA Service. You can access this document at: