Laura is 35 years old and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia ten years ago. She was detained in hospital under section 3 of the Mental Health Act.

Laura requested help from an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) to help her advocate her views at her weekly ward round. She did not want to be treated by her psychiatrist as she felt she was not listening to her and wanted to change to another doctor. Laura also wanted a review of her medication as she stated that her current medication did not appear to be helping her and raised concerns about lack of aftercare planning when she returned to her home.

Laura’s IMHA supported her to understand her rights under the Mental Health Act and to access relevant and appropriate information regarding her antipsychotic medication and relevant (NICE) guidance on the use of this treatment. This supported Laura to feel more empowered in discussions around her detention and treatment with her clinical team and to be able to self-advocate in her ward rounds with support. The IMHA also represented Laura at her request on how she could be better supported with her medication when she returned home and these points were added to Laura’s care plan. Laura was supported to raise her concerns about not being listened to by her psychiatrist and communication improved between Laura and her doctor.

The IMHA attended three separate ward rounds with Laura, and in each subsequent meeting Laura grew in confidence and was able to represent her views and self-advocate around treatment options as well as ensure that discharge planning was being followed up on a weekly basis. The IMHA told Laura about her rights to an assessment of her needs by the Local Authority under the Care Act 2014 and ensured that adult social care became involved in discharge planning with the clinical team and her social care needs were appropriately assessed.

Laura and her psychiatrist agreed to changes to her medication, a robust aftercare package was put in place and Laura returned home, saying IMHA help had been invaluable in supporting her understanding and confidence to achieve the outcomes she wanted and reducing her current and future risk of being admitted to hospital.