For day four of Advocacy Awareness Week 2022, one of our Advocates from our Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) team shares an example of their work in action. This story shows how advocacy can help people who are detained to have the right to respect for private and family life.

I have supported numerous people to have access to their families whilst they are detained under Mental Health Act. This can come in the forms of client being visited by family in hospital (and use of the café), having Section 17 leave to go out for a few hours with family, or going on a visit home to see family.

It also covers making sure that clients are support to keep in contact with their family members and provide ways in which to do this.

Some clients do not have very good relationships with family, and so it is also possible that advocacy can be used to help a client discuss how they want staff to speak with family, and if they give their consent for information to be passed over.

Advocacy can be used to ensure that staff take this seriously, and do not listen to the opinions of family members more than the person themselves, or pathologise private family issues as mental health issues in the person.