...services for you, influenced by you...
The Mental Health Advocacy Project celebrated its 25th birthday in 2013. Our Project came to being after a group of patients in Bangour Village Hospital set up "The Patients Council" to address various issues which affected their lives whilst in hospital. Over the years this was transformed into “Friendset”, then “The Patients Advocacy Service” then to the services we have today.
The Mental Health Advocacy Project may be quite different from its beginnings but we continue to focus on the same principles of helping service users to have their voice heard.
We offer a friendly and accessible service that values and respects service users and aims to provide people with the opportunity to take control over their own lives. We will help people to exercise choice based on their needs and wishes and have their voice heard. We aim to empower service users to become involved in decisions about their care and treatment and to help them protect their rights. Our service is confidential and free.
We offer both individual and collective advocacy services for people who have or have had mental health and/or addictions problems living in or receiving treatment in West Lothian. We are completely independent from those who fund us and other services / agencies. This means we can work for you in a way that is completely free from any conflict of interest.
Our project is service user led and our volunteers help us to provide a wide range of additional services. We are managed by a volunteer Management Committee of which the majority are service users. We have 8 staff members.
We are a full member of the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance. We are funded by West Lothian Council and NHS Lothian.
In April 2015 MHAP received new funding to develop an advocacy service for people who experience addictions.
In May 2015 MHAP became a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation.
What MHAP can Help you With
Throughout our life we can all face overwhelming and difficult situations where we feel that we are not being heard and unable to get our point across. We may feel like we are not being included in decisions that affect us and that no-one is taking us seriously. At times like these, we may feel that we would like to have someone stand alongside us.
Some of us may have family and friends that can be there for us at times like these, but others do not. Or, we may feel that family and friends are too close to the situation to be objective. Individual advocacy can stand alongside you at such times. It can help you to speak up for yourself and to ensure your views are listened to.
Your advocate will work on a one-to-one basis with you. They will meet with you either at our office in Broxburn or alternatively arrange a 2 person visit to your home or an agreed public location. They will listen to what you have to say, discuss your options and how they may be able to help. MHAP will not advise you on what to do, but will ensure you have the information you need to know your rights and make informed decisions and then support you to deal with the issue(s). We will never be judgemental and will only act on your behalf if we have your instruction and permission to do so.
MHAP is not a befriending, mediation or counselling service. We do not provide practical support. Everyone will be treated with respect and with full confidentiality (exceptions to this policy are allowed if we feel that you or any other person is at risk of serious harm). Whilst we cannot always guarantee the outcome you would hope for, we will ensure you are listened to.
We work with people in the hospital and community and can help in a range of different situations such as:
- The Mental Health Act; including Advance Statements and Named Person
- The Adult with Incapacity Act
- The Adult Support & Protection Act
- Care & Treatment issues
- Housing issues
- Family issues
- Benefit & Finance issues
- Criminal issues
We can support people with meetings and appointments and communicate on your behalf or help you to communicate with others. You may feel you need support with:
- Attending medical appointments
- Speaking to people involved in your care and treatment
- Help to find information about and help to access services
- Financial matters
- Attending appointments for housing, criminal etc.
- Helping you know your rights
This list is not exhaustive and if you think we can help with any issue you may be facing then contact us.
MHAP also provide collective advocacy which helps service users join together to discuss issues and take forward views that may influence change. It offers a shared voice rather than singling out individuals. It can help:
- Enable people to raise awareness and influence service planning and provision
- Make use of people's shared experiences so that they can have a stronger and more influential collective voice
- Address difficulties that service users are encountering with any aspect of their care and treatment, whilst affected by illness
- Challenge stigma and discrimination