Are human rights infringed in treatments for mental health?

Topics: Human rights, Mental disorder, Psychiatry Pages: 6 (1524 words) Published: March 19, 2014
Many situations experienced by people living with mental health problems involve human rights. However, there is little information available about human rights and how they relate to mental health. Too often, a person may not realise that they are able to do something about their situation, or even that there is something wrong with the way they are being treated. It is therefore vital that people living with mental health problems are able to access information about their human rights and challenge bad treatment. {BIHR, 2006, P.4}.

What are Human Rights?

The basic rights and freedoms, to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law. {American heritage, 2000}. The British Institute of Human Rights describe the relevance of human rights:

The Human Rights Act is vital to protecting the fundamental freedoms of everyone in society. The Act is particularly important for people with experience of mental distress, who are too often denied their human rights, such as the right not be discriminated against (article 14), the right to a private and family life (article 8), or, in extreme cases, the right to liberty (article 5), {Mind, 2013}. People with mental health problems are usually denied these rights. They do not have a say in their treatment, it is believed that the professionals have to make decisions for them, in the name of ‘best interest’. Human Rights and Mental Health

Mental health refers to our cognitive or emotional wellbeing - it is all about how we think, feel, and behave. Mental health, if somebody has it, can also mean an absence of a mental disorder. Approximately 25% of people in the UK have a mental health problem during their lives. {Medical, 2013}. Mental disorder is defined as ‘any disorder or disability of mind'. This definition includes conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, personality disorders, autistic-spectrum disorders, organic disorders such as dementia, behavioural changes due to brain injury, and mental disorders due to drug use. The definition includes learning disability only where it is associated with abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible behaviour. {Ibid}. There are many issues surrounding people with mental health problems, which are still a major cause of concern. The Use of restraint and treatment of the mentally ill

People with mental disorders are exposed to a wide range of human rights violations. This often occurs in psychiatric institutions through inadequate, degrading, and harmful care and treatment as well as unhygienic and inhuman living condition {WHO, 2006}. You have the absolute right not to be tortured or subjected to treatment or punishment, which is inhuman or degrading. In some instances, the use of restraint–physical or otherwise – may also amount to inhuman or degrading treatment. Examples include tying you to a chair to prevent you from moving, or continually giving you medication to keep you sedated because there is a lack of staff {BIHR, P.14}.

Case Example:

Should people with mental problem not have the right to object to the treatment they get? Detention
If you are detained under the Mental Health Act this means you are admitted to hospital against your will. Detention under the Mental Health Act is commonly known as ‘being sectioned’. {Ibid}. Which means those with mental disorders lack the capacity to make decisions, so every of such decisions are made on their behalf. So where are the rights of fairness, equality, dignity, and respect? Stigmatisation and aftercare

Stigma and prejudice contribute to the fundamental abuse of human rights that sadly continue to be seen in some of the outdated large psychiatric institutions and social care homes that remain the mainstay of mental health systems in some...

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