Under The Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003, everyone in Scotland who experiences mental health difficulties has a right to access Advocacy services. The Mental Health Advocacy Project (MHAP) is an independent organisation that offers individual and collective advocacy services for anyone who has or has had mental health and/or addiction problems living in or receiving treatment in West Lothian
There may be times in our lives where we need some support to face difficult situations or make difficult decisions. At these times we would all like to have someone at our side to help.
Advocacy is about standing alongside people at these times.
It is about speaking up for people or helping them to speak up for themselves when they feel they are not being heard. It is about listening to what people want and helping them to find the best way to achieve it. It is about helping people to access the information they need to be able to make informed choices and decisions to remain in control of their own health and social care.
Advocacy can help you become more aware of your rights, be able to explore your options and help you to influence decisions that are being made about your future.
Advocacy will not make judgements or advise you or tell you what to do. Advocacy will not make decisions on your behalf or talk to anyone without your permission. Advocacy is not a befriending, mediation or counselling service.
Being independent means your advocate is not tied to any other providers of health services or agencies which means they are free to act on someone's behalf completely free from conflict.
Your advocate will work with you on a one to one basis to help and support you through what may be a difficult time. They will aim to empower you to become involved in decisions about your care and treatment. They will do this through providing information to help you protect your rights.
Collective advocacy allows groups of people with shared experiences to come together to discuss issues and take forward views that may influence change. Our project facilitates the West Lothian Service Users' Forum and the Community Reps’ Group.
The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA) have produced a DVD and a range of leaflets providing information on different types of advocacy which can be viewed via their website.