Foreword about IMHA

Lord Michael Bichard

To be detained on a hospital ward, or to be subject to a community treatment order can be confusing, distressing and frightening. People with mental health issues, in these situations, don’t always have their rights explained properly or get their voices heard.

In 2012, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) reviewed IMHA services and produced 'The right to be heard'. This found that only half of those eligible for IMHA had access to it. The Care Quality Commission’s recent 'Monitoring the Mental health Act annual report 2013/14' found that 20 per cent of people sectioned in hospital don’t have their rights properly explained to them.

SCIE and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have developed 12 new resources to improve the access to, and the quality of, Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA).

One of the strengths of this project is that it was co-produced with people who use services. Users were involved in a number of roles, including as advisory group members, writers, film-makers, editors and project leads. The project also considered the views of advocacy services, mental health providers and commissioners. This helped to understand the barriers to the provision of better IMHA provision and access; and how the resources can help to provide local practical solutions.

Access to IMHA can ensure people’s rights are respected, greatly enhance the experience of people who use services, and improve staff/user relations.

Improving access to IMHA and the quality of IMHA are important and complex issues. Advocacy providers, commissioners, regulators, central government, mental health professionals and people who use services need to work together to ensure that everyone has the right to be heard.

Lord Michael Bichard signature

Lord Michael Bichard
Chair of SCIE