From 1 April 2009 Wigan Family Welfare has been contracted to provide Independent Mental Health Advocacy, which is a statutory right for people detained under most sections of the Mental Health Act.

What is an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA)?

IMHAs are specialist advocates who are trained to work within the Mental Health Act to meet the needs of people detained under the Act. IMHAs are completely independent of professionals who provide care and treatment for people.

What is the role of the IMHA?

To support those who qualify to access and understand information regarding:

  • Their rights under the Act
  • The rights of others, e.g nearest relative
  • The parts of the Act that apply to them
  • Conditions and restrictions to which they are subject
  • Medical treatment they receive or might receive
  • The reasons for that treatment
  • To speak up and get their voices heard in situations such as ward rounds and Multi-Disciplinary
  • Team (MDT) meetings. This is with the person present or with permission in their absence.
  • To raise concerns about their care and treatment
  • To attend the Tribunal (formerly Mental Health Review Tribunal) and Hospital Manager’s Hearings.
  • To access notes and records in relation to their detention, care and treatment if permissible by the client themselves.
Who can have the support of an IMHA?

Those who are subject to the following sections of the Act:

  • Section 2
  • Section 3
  • Conditionally discharged restricted patients
  • Section 7 Guardianship
  • Supervised Community Treatment
  • Those being considered for Section 57 treatment
  • Those under 18 being considered for Section 58a treatment

Who can make referrals?

An IMHA has a duty to comply with any reasonable request to see a qualifying person made by:

  • The qualifying person themselves (i.e. self-referral)
  • The nearest relative
  • The responsible Clinician
  • An Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) who is acting on behalf of the Local Social Services Authority.