Your local Mental Health Service has a duty to provide you with access to an independent mental health advocate if you are detained ('sectioned') under certain sections of the Mental Health Act in England and also if you are detained under any section or are an informal (voluntary) patient in Wales.
The best way to make sure you get access to an IMHA in is through the following departments of your Mental Health Trust:
· Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
· Customer Care Service
These are services in a Mental Health Trust who usually arrange for an IMHA to work with a patient.
You can normally get in touch with them by:
Email or fax is a good method for speaking to PALS as it can be quick and you have a written record of your communication with them. Phoning can be useful if you have a quick query or to follow up an email, fax or letter you have sent. This is useful if there is a delay in responding.
Whatever communication you use, you must clearly explain that you request access to an IMHA for yourself as a detained patient or for someone you know who has been detained. If your request for an IMHA is refused, ask for a clear explanation why and contact the Hospital Managers of the Mental Health Trust and make the request again.
If they refuse, please contact NHS Complaints Advocacy 0300 330 5454 who can help you to make a complaint and challenge a decision to refuse support.
You can also contact the Mental Health Lawyers Association if you need a mental health solicitor.
If you do not know the name of your local Mental Health Trust, ask a professional involved in your care or to find out call:
NHS England http://www.england.nhs.uk/
Telephone 0300 311 22 33 Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm
Health in Wales (NHS Wales) http://www.wales.nhs.uk/Mental Health Helpline for Wales Freephone 0800 132737 or text 'help' to 81066