Improving equality of access to Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA): a report for providers
This report aims to help Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) services reach everyone who is entitled to their support. Our intention is to assist IMHA providers to achieve the best possible outcomes for all people treated under the Mental Health Act 1983 amended in 2007. Drawing directly on the findings and recommendations of the national review of the quality of IMHA services in England (Newbigging et al, 2012), this report highlights the problem of unequal uptake of IMHA by some groups of ‘qualifying patients’ and explores what can be done to change this situation. We draw attention to the obligations of IMHA services under the Equality Act (2010) and provide concrete suggestions about how to take effective action and improve practice when working with people sharing relevant protected characteristics. (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2010a)
In this report, we suggest some steps that IMHA providers can take to help them identify, understand, and address the barriers to the full and effective use of their service by everyone who is entitled to access it. In summary these are:
- Understanding the needs of the local population is key to developing an equitable IMHA service
- Equality monitoring and evaluation are central to delivering accessible IMHA services.
- Working together with existing specialised community organisations is an effective way to meeting diverse needs
- IMHA services must make themselves visible and accessible to everyone who has the right to use the service
- IMHA providers must do everything possible to enable effective communication with qualifying patients
- Advocates need to build trusting relationships with service users.
In this section