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Independent advocacy

Under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act, people with learning disabilities and people with a mental illness have a right to independent advocacy.

You do not have to be in hospital or under any mental health act order to get this right.

This means that you should be able to have an independent advocate and/or join an advocacy group if you want to.

What is independent advocacy?

Independent advocacy helps you to make your voice stronger and to have as much control as possible over your life.

It is called independent because advocates and advocacy workers are separate from services. They do not work for hospitals, social work or other services.

Why might I need independent advocacy?

Some people need support to speak up, to understand what is being said and to make decisions. Many people find that when they feel ill or upset they are not as good at saying what they want and they need support to speak up.

When might I need independent advocacy?

There are some times when it is especially important for you to get advocacy support. These times may be when you are:

On an order which says that:

  • you must stay in hospital
  • you can only stay out of hospital on certain conditions
  • you can be given treatment even if you do not want it

Your doctors, nurses, social workers and mental health officers should make sure you know about independent advocacy and help you get it.

For advice on mental health and incapacity law contact our Advice Line.

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