For centuries, societies have crafted written standards to protect individuals and to promote their basic human rights. Two extraordinary examples were the Magna Carta of 1215 and the US Bill of Rights in 1791.
What if we decided to write a ‘bill of rights’ for mental health care? What would it look like? What ideals, protections, and guarantees would need to be included?
The many current problems with mental health services are well known, and they include inadequate access to care, unaffordability, lack of appropriately trained providers and unproven or ineffective types of treatment being offered.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, there is no universally accepted set of standards for what optimal mental health services should include. But what’s stopping us from writing one?
So, here’s a draft of what a ‘mental health bill of rights’ might look like.
Mental Health Bill of Rights
You have the right to:
1) Affordable, accessible care.
2) Be seen as a person, not an illness.
3) Be treated with respect and dignity.
4) Disclose or not disclose information about your treatment to others.
5) Receive care from appropriately trained, caring professionals.
6) Be fully informed of available and effective treatment options for your condition.
7) Be fully informed of the respective risks and benefits of each treatment option before deciding on a course of treatment.
8) Participate in the development of your treatment plan and have your input, preferences and goals incorporated into the plan.
9) Have family or other support persons involved in your care if you choose and grant permission.
10) Develop a mental health “advance directive” outlining your preferences for care during a mental health crisis, including the option of designating a trusted surrogate to make decisions for you.
Perhaps the time has come for us to collectively agree on a mental health bill of rights and enact it so such ideals can become the standard for mental health care.
Where do we start? Speak up! Talk with policy makers, mental health advocates and health care leaders.
Send the clear message that now, more than ever we need a core set of standards for how people with mental health concerns should be treated.
Let’s make this vision a reality.
Here’s a question: What other standards should be included in a mental health bill of rights? Please leave a comment. Also, please consider subscribing to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Thanks!