Youth Advocacy

Our Willow Grove Adolescent Unit supports youth advocacy to ensure young people’s voices are heard in all aspects of their care.

In Willow Grove, we believe youth advocacy is crucial to “help people help themselves” and to develop strength and resilience.

Youth advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling young people to:

  • express their views and concerns
  • access information and services
  • defend and promote their rights and responsibilities.

As part of this, all young people receiving inpatient care and treatment in Willow Grove can access an independent advocate through Youth Advocacy Programmes Ireland (YAP).

YAP aims to empower young people and their families and to address the needs of the young person within their family and local community. It supports young people to reach their goals by making the improvements they consider necessary. 

What is an independent advocate?

An independent advocate is someone who provides advocacy support when you need it and who is separate to the supports or services you are accessing.

Having an independent advocate can be helpful in all kinds of situations where you may:

  • Find it difficult to make your views known
  • Wish to discuss your options
  • Need help or advice with decision-making
  • Need other people to listen to you and take your views into account.

For example, an independent advocate will:

  • Listen to your views and concerns
  • Help you access information
  • Help you to explore your options and rights, without advising you in any way
  • Give you information to make informed decisions
  • Help you contact relevant people, or contact them for you
  • Accompany and support you in meetings and appointments.

An advocate will not give you their personal opinion, solve problems or make decisions for you, or make judgements about you.

How does the YAP service work in Willow Grove?

YAP offers an independent mental health advocate service in Willow Grove.

This takes place:

  • In group format every fortnight
  • Through individual sessions when required or requested by the young person.

Through this service, an independent advocate can support you to understand the service provided to you; to strengthen your participation in your care and treatment; to express your views; and to make informed decisions.

YAP is separate to Willow Grove and St Patrick’s Mental Health Services. This means you can be reassured that it is an unbiased and non-judgmental service. Anything you discuss is confidential between you and the advocate, unless you consent to the advocate discussing it with a named person. If the advocate has any concerns about your safety or the safety of others, they must let a member of your team know, and you will, of course, be informed of this at the time.

How can you access the YAP service?

If you would like to be referred to an independent advocate through YAP, you can refer yourself to the advocate directly. The advocate attends Willow Grove every two weeks, and you can meet them as little or as often as you like.

You can also ask the Willow Grove team for more information about the independent advocacy service. You can also ask the team to contact the advocacy service if you need an individual session with the advocate.