Malik is 18 and of African descent. He was referred to POhWER for support whilst detained in an acute mental health unit under the Mental Health Act (MHA).

Malik’s Multi-Disciplinary Team said he was ready to be discharged into the community under a Community Treatment Order (CTO). However, it was alleged that Malik had been involved in a serious crime and his Early Intervention Team (EIT) were waiting for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to prosecute before getting fully involved with his case. The EIT had made it clear they felt Malik should go to a low-security unit, under a forensic psychiatric team.

James, an Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) with POhWER, informed Malik of his rights and asked his views about being in hospital and his wishes for the future. Malik explained that he had been due to start sixth form during the Covid-19 pandemic but had now received no schooling for two years. Malik is a carer for his younger brother as their mother recently died and their father’s involvement in their lives is erratic.

At Malik’s request, James supported him at his ward reviews. James reminded the EIT of their responsibilities to Malik as their patient and pointed out that he had not yet been charged with anything. Malik and staff on his ward felt the EIT, with only limited knowledge of his case, had already decided he was guilty and were actively ‘pushing’ him into Forensic Services.  

The EIT were refusing to pick up Malik’s case fully until he had been convicted but the local authority social work team were hesitant to get involved in what they were told would be a case for forensic services.  James reminded those involved that even if Malik was guilty, the case could take a long time to come to trial and for him to be referred to the Forensic Team; meanwhile his immediate needs were not being met.

James was also contacted by Malik’s original Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) who was glad an IMHA was involved. The AMHP expressed concerns about institutional racism. He felt the EIT were acting out of remit and that their pushing Malik into Forensic Services was influenced by his ethnicity and social background.

Even though there were wider issues to this case, James made sure at every step to keep Malik’s own wishes and opinions at the centre of everything and frequently reminded him that he was there to provide support and explain his options.

With James’ support, Malik was discharged on a CTO and is now living at home with his brother and receiving support in the community. The AMHP was very impressed by James and POhWER’s involvement in this case, believing that without an advocate’s support, Malik could have suffered for many years from discriminatory decisions made about him.