Types of Advocacy

Short-term, Issue based or Crisis Advocacy

This recognises that some people may require the support of an independent advocate during a major change in their life, eg death of a carer, or with a particular issue, eg accessing housing advice or making a complaint.  The short-term advocate is somebody who is not involved in the persons issues, and offers them person-centred independent support.  The relationship would usually only last until the issue has been dealt with by the appropriate body.

Citizen Advocacy

Citizen advocacy is a one-to-one relationship between an unpaid advocate (volunteer) and their (advocacy) partner.  The emphasis is on a long-term relationship based on equality and on promoting human rights and challenging social exclusion.  Citizen advocacy is especially useful to people who have experienced, or are experiencing, long-term social exclusion. For more information see our 'Volunteers' section.


The process of people speaking out for themselves, therby gaining control over their lives.  It often involves people working as a group and often self-advocates become peer and/or citizen advoctes.

Peer Advocacy

Peer advocacy recognises the value of an advocate having shared common experiences with a person that they are supporting, eg a person who has faced mental health difficulties supporting somebody with similar experiences.

Collective or Group Advocacy

People who face a similar situation or have a shared concern come together to make their common cause known, and get their collective voice heard.

Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA)

In operation since April 2009, It is a statutorily defined role that was introduced with the new Mental Health Act.  IMHAs should be involved when a person is sectioned under the Mental Health Act, under Guardianship or Supervised Community Treatment or under 18 and being considered for Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).  Informal patients may also receive IMHA support if they are being considered for serious surgery, such as neurosurgery.

Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)

In operation since 2007, it is a statutorily defined role that was introduced with the Mental Capacity Act.  IMCAs should be involved in situations where a person is considered not to have the capacity to make a particular decision and is 'unbefriended'.  The situations in which the IMCA service is applicable are specifically defined. Since April 2009, IMCAs should also be involved when Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are registered.

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IMCA - Making Decisions Booklet

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The Mental Capacity Implementation Programme published this booklet. It was written by Sue Lee at Speaking Up.

© Crown copyright 2007

Making Decisions Booklet.pdf
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