South West Advocacy Network (SWAN) is the provider of mental health advocacy in Dorset. Please contact them via their website for further assistance:

We all have the right to an equal and fulfilling life and this shouldn’t be compromised by mental health difficulties.  Sometimes during times of emotional distress, it can be difficult to make your wishes known, to feel or be heard.  You may also struggle to understand what your rights are and how to access support and advice, this is when an Advocate may be able to help.

Advocates walk alongside people who need support during difficult times, they are supportive and non-judgemental, and work together with individuals to ensure their voice is heard and their rights are accessed.

Access to Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) is a statutory right for people who are detained under most sections of the Mental Health Act, subject to guardianship or on a community treatment order (CTO).  When someone is detained in hospital or on a CTO it can be a very confusing and distressing experience.  IMHAs are independent of mental health services and can help people get their opinions heard and make sure they know their rights under the law.  IMHA can make a big difference to people’s experience of detention.

Click on the link to find out more about Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA):

An important part of Recovery is the ability to Advocate for yourself, at the Forum we believe mental health is a human right and want to ensure everyone in Dorset has the opportunity to build skills that enable them to communicate what is important to them and build a life beyond Mental Health Services.

The Recovery Education Centre has produced a number of resources to explore being heard.  They can be accessed here:


Aims of Advocacy

  • To listen to your views and help you explore your rights and the options available to you.
  • Where appropriate, accompany you and support you in meetings, appointments, tribunals, case conferences or appeals where you feel unable to communicate your wishes.
  • To support you in asking the questions you want to ask and to explain any difficult to understand terminology delivered through health and social care environments.
  • Put you in contact with people who can help you and sometimes contact them on your behalf.
  • Act upon your wishes, objectively and without judgement.
  • Help you find ways to solve specific problems in your life by developing your own skills and building your confidence (self-advocacy).