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Independent advocacy means speaking up for an individual or group. It helps people make their own decisions and gives them as much control as possible over their own lives.

What advocacy can do

Independent advocacy can help:

  • safeguard your rights
  • access information
  • make sure your voice is heard

Access to independent advocacy

People covered by the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act (including people who have a mental health issue, a learning disability, autism or dementia) have a legal right to independent advocacy.

The advocate would help them understand their rights, work out their options, express their views and make decisions. The role of the advocate isn’t restricted to mental health situations.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to access advocacy in other situations.

However, everyone can ask for an advocate, and everyone has a right to have someone else present at healthcare appointments.

Watch this video from the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA) on how advocacy can help.


If you look after someone and feel you'd like to get your voice heard more effectively, visit Being Heard: a self-advocacy toolkit for carers on the Carers Scotland website.

Further information

If you would like more information about independent advocacy, how it can help you and where your nearest advocacy organisation is, visit the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA)'s website. The SIAA can help you find an advocate.

Read the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003

Read the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000

See the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007

Read the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011

The information was last updated on: 28th August 2020


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