HSE: Gap Analysis - Advocacy Support Needs, Mental Health Services

Recommendation 65: The HSE should ensure that access to appropriate advocacy supports can be provided in all mental health services

Background and Context of the Gap Analysis

‘Sharing the Vision (StV) – A mental health policy for everyone 2020 – 2030’ is Ireland’s whole system policy to enhance the provision of mental health services and supports across a broad continuum from promotion of positive mental health to specialist mental health service delivery. The policy is underpinned by the values of respect, compassion, equity and hope. It takes a person-centred approach with a focus on enabling and supporting the recovery journey of individuals in the context of their personal lived experience

In line with this vision, the policy aims at driving the progressive reform of mental health services and supports, through coordination and policy development, research and innovation, accountability and collective advocacy.

Sharing the Vision is outcome-focused, supporting tangible changes in the lives of people using mental health services and the wider community. The first Implementation Plan outlines a programme of work for the next three years from 2022 – 2024 to deliver StV recommendations.

As part of the overall implementation plan for StV, the National Office of Mental Health Engagement and Recovery (MHER) with Supporting Partners (SP): SHINE, PAMH, YAP Ireland, NAS, MHI, MHR, Family Carer’s Ireland, GROW, SAGE and Experts by Experience are leading on the implementation of StV Recommendation 65 “The HSE should ensure that access to appropriate advocacy supports can be provided in all mental health services”.

Purpose and Objectives of Consultancy

MHER and SP working group are seeking an external consultant to conduct a gap analysis to identify advocacy support needs with a representative sample of mental health services. The members of the working group will support the consultant to identify and engage with relevant representatives of mental health services.

The findings and recommendations from the gap analysis will be used to formulate an implementation plan to address areas that need improvement.

This gap analysis is based on the definition of advocacy stated in Sharing the Vision (p. 58):

Inclusion Criteria:

  • This gap analysis is based around individualised ‘casework’ advocacy in the area of mental health, guided by the individual’s definition of what support looks like to them.
  • Advocates are people whose primary role is to support an individual around decision-making or having their voice heard.
  • Advocacy is about having someone available to help a person (of any age) who is accessing mental health services make decisions about healthcare or other services such as access to social welfare, housing or other social entitlements or services.
  • Advocates can also help an individual to make a complaint or seek redress.
  • ‘Advocacy’ also includes advocacy services for the family members/supporters of a person accessing mental health services.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • For the purpose of this gap analysis, wider political advocacy, legal advocacy and systemic advocacy are not included.

The Objectives of the consultancy are as follows:

  • To explore and document the present levels of advocacy supports;
  • To identify good practices that can be duplicated;
  • To identify the main gaps in the provision of advocacy services;
  • To recommend what is needed to achieve quality advocacy services in Ireland.


The suggested methodology should include (not exclusively) the following:

  • An extensive literature & online review of advocacy services being provided at present as well as samples of best international practices on advocacy;
  • Facilitation of a focus group with people with lived experience and family members & supporters to gather their views, as well as their ideas on the design of the gap analysis questions;
  • Discussions with the working group to agree on a representative sample of mental health services;
  • Selection and description of key research tools (i.e focus groups, interviews, surveys) which will examine the views and experiences of advocacy within the mental health services and people with lived experience, family members & supporters.

The gap analysis should be guided but not limited by the following questions (please note the following questions are included as examples to be further elaborated by the consultant in collaboration with the working group)

  • What are the main advocacy services being provided by mental health services at present in Ireland?
  • What are the organisations offering advocacy services?
  • Which of these services are independent?
  • What is international best practice in advocacy services?
  • What would good quality advocacy services look like following international best practice?
  • What are the main identified gaps in the provision of advocacy services?
  • How can the provision of advocacy services be improved in Ireland?
  • What is the model of funding (commissioned, service level agreement…)

The working group will provide an open space to discuss the methodology and research questions in collaboration with the selected consultant.

Final Outputs

  • A power point presentation to the R65 working group with main findings and key recommendations;
  • A short document including main identified gaps, main funding models for advocacy services; identified best practices and recommendations for action on how to address areas that need improvement based on the gap analysis.

Project Budget, Insurance and Tax, Ethical Approval

The total budget for this tender is €15.000 including VAT and all expenses.

Please note that the selected candidate and methodology may be requested to obtain ethical approval from the HSE Ethical Committee, in which case relevant guidance will provided by Mental Health Engagement and Recovery Office.

Consultant Specifications

Mental Health Engagement and Recovery and Supporting Partners working group encourages applications from individuals with lived experience of mental health challenges including service users, family members, friends or carers.

It is recommended for the person hired to undertake this consultancy to possess the following qualifications and skills:

  • Demonstrated knowledge (through degree or experience) of the mental health services in Ireland;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of disability and mental health policy;
  • Experience in conducting qualitative research including data collection through focus groups and interviews and analysis of qualitative data;
  • Strong writing and communication skills;
  • Strong relationship management skills;
  • Adherence to agreed-upon timeframes and deadlines


We hope this project will commence on 10th of January 2023 and be completed by 10th of March 2023.

Application and Tender Requirements

Tenders for this work must include:

  1. Name of applicant and/or organisation name, address and contact details;
  2. Cover letter addressing the criteria and outlining the understanding of the brief (max. 1,000 words);
  3. Personnel involved – details of all personnel who will be involved, including a CV which outlines their qualifications/experience;
  4. Description of proposed project approach, methodology, actions and timeframe (max. 1,500 words);
  5. Costs – detailed breakdown of costs including any associated costs, VAT inclusive.

Tender Evaluation Process

Tender proposals selection criteria:

  • Understanding the Brief (20%)
  • Proven capability and experience in research, consultation and relevant field work (30%)
  • Methodology (30%)
  • Cost (20%)

Closing Date for Receipt of Tender

The closing date for receipt of the Tender is 5pm on Monday 5th of December 2022.

Tender submissions marked with the subject ‘Tender Application StV Rec 65’ should be emailed to: Fiona.mckernan@hse.ie .

Queries or Clarifications

Contact Fiona Mc Kernan Fiona.mckernan@hse.ie

General Info

Date Entered/Updated
7th Nov, 2022
Expiry Date
5th Dec, 2022