Many people who have a mental health problem find it difficult or distressing to deal with certain aspects of their lives, like dealing with bureaucracy, when they are acutely unwell. In those situations, it is often a good idea to call on the skills of an Independent Advocate. Advocacy is an impartial, non-judgemental and usually free service. Advocates act on behalf of people who want or need someone else to help them with such things as benefits appeals, court appearances, and issues with social work or the health service.

According to the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA), “Independent advocacy is a way to help people have a stronger voice and to have as much control as possible over their own lives. Independent Advocacy organisations are separate from organisations that provide other types of services. An Independent Advocate will not make decisions on behalf of the person they are supporting. The Independent Advocate helps the person to get the information they need to make real choices about their circumstances and supports the person to put their choices across to others. An Independent Advocate may speak on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves.”

Independent Advocacy services are available all over Scotland, the SIAA provides a list of services broken down into NHS Board areas, so that you can find one in your local area, and which suits your particular needs. Independent Advocates act on your behalf: their first priority is that your wishes and thoughts are communicated effectively; and that you retain as much control over your own life as possible.

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3 Responses to Advocacy

  1. mikeg12 says:

    its true advocates are supposed to be impartial but how can they be when the mental hospital pay for the advocate service,therefore they are not going to upset thier pay check by following complaints independently-evidence of this is confirmed by the fact that a service user complained in writing in jan and it is still not investigated–complaints should be handled within 28 days not five months,

  2. Thanks for taking the time to offer your views on the advocacy article. While neither Mind Waves Project nor Outside the Box can comment on individual cases, the comment about difficulties around advocacy and making a complaint raises some interesting points.
    A service can work well for some people but not work well for other people. So having a way to raise concerns and be listened to is important for all services. There are several ways for anyone who uses a service to follow this up if they feel a service has not dealt with their complaint. Mind Waves will look to put together a new piece with further information on this issue.
    On the point raised about advocacy funding, there are rules in place to make sure advocacy projects are independent of the local authority and NHS, even if the funding comes from there. The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance has done a lot of work on this topic. The recent Mind Waves blog about Advocacy is a good starting point if people want to find out more.
    Anne Connor, Outside the Box.

  3. Pingback: LPCC Time for Advocacy |

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