“All persons with a mental illness, or who are being treated as such persons, shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person… There shall be no discrimination on the grounds of mental illness…” – The UN Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental illness: GA Resolution 46/119, 17th December 1991.
Days, months and years have passed; times have flown by…. but, still today we live in a society of mixed feelings. In some parts of the world the scenario of mental health has really strengthened and has seen a drastic positive change. But, in some corners of the world, still the mentally ill have to face a lot of stigma and discrimination day in and day out. Don’t be surprised by reading this. It happens! If you suffer from fever of flu then people are ok. But, the moment you suffer from a mental ailment many eyebrows would be raised and your life would change for a lifetime. If you are lucky enough then you will get the best of treatment, care and empathy from the people around you. If you are not, then don’t be surprised if people start calling you a Psycho or something like that.
I don’t want to scare you off folks. Mental health scenario has positively changed over the past few decades. People with mental illnesses in the past were chained or closed in dark rooms. They had to go through multitude of pains and sufferings. At least this worst-case scenario does not happen today. The world today is much more sensitized and aware of these issues. Today, starting from mental health awareness to treatment process…everything is much better developed and within the reach of a common man. But, the story does not end here. It is not only the duty of professional or stakeholders to provide you treatment or create awareness. As a responsible citizen of the civil society you also need to be sensitized about mental health laws and human rights. This will help you to help yourself, help your loved ones and the ailing. This will also help you to avoid unnecessary stigma, discrimination and get the best of mental health services.
This blog is an insight into the mental health laws and human rights that all are entitled to as human beings. No matter where you live or where you are be healthy, be safe and safeguard your human rights. Live and let live!
“…Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…” – 1st sentence of the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Here are some important Mental Health Laws and Human Rights that you should know:
- Right to informed consent: You should be made aware of your mental health issues without any discrimination. You are also entitled to know the treatment procedures.
- Right to confidentiality: This right safeguards your confidentiality and dignity. Under no circumstances your name and other personal information should get leaked out before others.
- You have the right to refuse treatment if you are not comfortable. No mental health professional or GP has the right to administer drugs on you unless and until you give the consent.
You have the right to:
- Avail all medical facilities irrespective of your gender, religion, language, culture or race.
- Avail hospitalization and emergency services if the situations or symptoms worsen.
- Take appropriate action if you feel someone breaches your human right or mental health right.
- Continue your work if your doctor has advised you to do so.
- Choose which mental health professional you want to get services from and the kind of therapy services you need.
- Avail insurance services, medi-claims and other such financial aids.
- Ensure your safety and integrity.
- You cannot be denied of your property, freedom, legal and ethical rights, liberty, possessions only because you have a mental health problem.
- You cannot be denied of treatment.
- You cannot be denied of proper hygiene, exercise, nutrition, care and allied health care services.
In a nutshell, suffering from any mental health issue does not mean that you cannot live life freely and fruitfully. Knowing the laws and rights is an essential part of meaningful living, survival or existence in the civil society. You have the right to live with dignity irrespective of your health conditions.
“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” – Bill Clinton