Abeni is a black woman in her 50s who lives with her husband and son. She has a history of poor mental health which has meant she has needed to be admitted to hospital on a number of occasions.

Abeni had been admitted to hospital and detained (also known as sectioned) under the Mental Health Act. Pauline, a POhWER Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) met Abeni on one of her regular visits to the mental health unit which Abeni had been admitted to. Pauline provides the Independent Mental Health Advocacy service to patients as a right under the Mental Health Act.

Pauline spoke with Abeni and her husband. Abeni explained to Pauline that she wanted to move to a crisis house, needed help with benefits, and wanted to talk with a psychologist. She had concerns about her physical health including painful teeth. As Abeni had a ‘ward round’ coming up, with the opportunity to speak to her doctor, Abeni asked Pauline to attend it with her and her husband to provide support and represent Abeni’s views if she felt unable to do so herself.

Pauline suggested she email the doctor, letting him know in advance what Abeni and her husband wanted to talk about. Abeni agreed to this.

When Pauline first met Abeni, her ability to take in information had been affected by her poor mental health, but by the following week, her mental health had improved and Abeni was able to present her own views and take part in the discussions at ward round. With support from her husband and Pauline, Abeni was also able to identify the background to her mental health relapse (family issues). Abeni asked her doctor for and received information on her physical and mental health concerns, and the medications needed for her recovery. Abeni’s doctor explained that psychological help would be provided once Abeni's mental health had improved, and once Abeni was more stable she would be referred to a crisis house as she requested.

Pauline supported Abeni to discuss the pain in her teeth and her need for a benefits assessment. The ward staff agreed to make her an appointment with a dentist. Abeni’s Care Coordinator agreed to carry out a benefits check.

Abeni benefited from advocacy through increased voice and personal control and improved physical and mental health. Both Abeni and her husband expressed how grateful they were for the advocate’s time.