Friday, 10 August 2012

independent mental health advocacy in Fife? not in my experience

I am compelled to return to the topic of independent mental health advocacy in Fife.  Or the lack of it.  Following recent experiences of having to access this service for a relative in a locked ward.  Four advocates over four weeks. no consistency.  As a carer I had the phone put down on me by a worker.  My relative was not listened to or supported adequately.  Human rights issues arose without the safeguard of independent advocacy.

I've complained about our experience of the poor service but to no avail.  My voice like others is not being heard.  This is what happens when mental health advocacy services go to tender and market place forces come in to play.  We're told that targets are now being met.  That there are few if any complaints about the service.  I don't believe it.  When I complained I got a solicitor's letter sent to me.  If that's what's happening then few people will complain.  It stands to reason.

Under the Mental Health Act Scotland 2003 independent advocacy is one of the main safeguards, to protect the rights of mental health service users, along with the Mental Health Tribunal, named person, advance statement and Mental Welfare Commission.  I wrote about this recently in a Mad in America blog post 'Mental Health Acts - Protecting Rights or Not?'.   "Independent advocacy that is free from conflict of interest and supports freedom of speech".  Statutory agencies fund mental health advocacy so the service has to be independent, to challenge the 'hand that feeds'.

The mental health advocacy contract in Fife comes to an end next March 2013 so will go to tender.  I want to see a return to independent advocacy for people in Fife with a 'mental disorder' and their carers.  Advocacy that is truly independent of services and prepared to stand up for the rights of people who are detained under the Mental Health Act and who may be at risk of having their basic human rights denied.

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