Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 July 2022
We began this book by asking where advocacy came from. We end by asking where it's going to. As Yogi Berra, baseball coach and coiner of immortal phrases, once said: “You gotta be very careful if you don't know where you’re going, because you might not get there”.
People who know a lot about advocacy give two different answers to this question about its future. There are those – often inspired to play a part in the project by their own experience as users of the mental health services – who hope advocacy will reach more of the people with mental disorders and do more for them. Advocates will work more actively with groups of patients as well as with individuals, they will reach out to people in need of help who are getting no services at all, and will gain greater credibility with staff of the health and social services. These people want to ‘deepen’ the existing service.
Meanwhile there are those – often playing leading roles in the present advocacy services – who expect them to help growing numbers of clients with a growing variety of needs. That is already happening in the more effective parts of the service. As we have shown, an advocate who has helped a confused older lady may be asked for help by her neighbour who is mentally spry but physically disabled. Meanwhile, her agency's manager may be asked by a local authority to extend advocacy to new groups of clients – work for which the council is willing to pay. Neither finds it easy to refuse. These people are prepared to ‘broaden’ the service.
To deepen or broaden? It is our view that we should, cautiously, do both. But that's much too simple an answer. We are more likely to get our priorities right if we start by recalling where the service came from and consider how it meshes with other strategies for achieving some of the same things. That may enable us to clarify longer-term aims. But aims cannot be derived from facts alone. They have to be rooted in moral foundations of some sort and a vision of the society we are trying to create. Some readers will reject the vision we offer and the policies it would call for. We hope we may provoke and inspire them to formulate a vision of their own that they find more convincing.
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