An Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) story, James and Naz

Naz, a Cloverleaf Advocate, introduced advocacy to James during a ward surgery. James was concerned as his consultant was attributing many of his autistic traits (sensitive hearing, reluctance to engage with staff etc) exclusively to an underlying mental health condition.

In subsequent ward rounds, Naz supported James to request a referral be made for relevant services - which James and his family found 'incredibly supportive'. 

During a further ward round where Naz was present, James’ consultant discussed future plans to include a Guardianship order at an address that James and his family had visited and felt inappropriate. Naz pointed out to the consultant and team that as James’ Nearest Relative was not in favour of the order, the plan would need to be reassessed under Section 7 of the Mental Health Act. This had not been previously considered.

In the following weeks it was agreed that with appropriate input from Autism Support - and continuing input from the local Early Intervention Team - James could return home. This was an outcome both James and his parents had hoped for, but that had not been previously discussed as a plausible option.

James felt the successes of advocacy included:

* his being able to access appropriate support

* the acceptance by the Mental Health team that the unit was not appropriate for him

* his being able to return home with his parents and an appropriate care package, an outcome not previously considered

Naz felt she had been able to support James to raise concerns including:

* The particular rights of the Nearest Relative regarding the suggested Guardianship Order had been overlooked prior to advocacy input

* Certain autistic traits were mistakenly diagnosed as underlying mental health issues - and treated as such - until advocacy request for referral to appropriate support