New research to guide commissioning of Independent Mental Health Advocacy
The Mental Elf, 2012
Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs) help patients who are under the Mental Health Act to understanding the position they are in, look after their rights and make the right decisions about their care and treatment.
Independent advocacy has been around for many years, but there have been very few evaluations of mental health advocacy to guide commissioners.
Review the extent to which IMHA services in England are providing accessible, effective and appropriate support for the diversity of qualifying patients, and to better understand the factors that affect quality.
It was intended that the study would obtain robust evidence to inform the commissioning and delivery of high quality IMHA services.
The research used a variety of methods to gather information about how IMHA services are working in practice, including a literature review, focus groups, shadowing IMHA visits, case studies, questionnaires, interviews and analysis of key reports and service records.
As you would expect, the research team included people with experience of using mental health services and of the Mental Health Act.
Some health professionals don’t understand that it is their responsibility to promote IMHA or IMHAsâ right to see patient records
There is little evidence to show that service user needs are considered when IMHA services are first commissioned
Service users should get an advocate automatically and if they donât want one then they can tell them that
All the different groups who find it hard to get an IMHA need to be top of the list and a close eye kept so they get the service they need
Information that mental health professionals and IMHA services keep about the involvement of advocates needs to be clear and with clear standards so the same type of records are kept