Declaration For Change In Mental Health

22 February 2016, 06:00

People with mental health issues must get a say in decisions affecting their health, according to charities and the Scottish public.

The Scottish Recovery Network, (SRN), See Me and Voices Of eXperience (VOX) will today (MON) hold a launch event for the Declaration of Rights for Mental Health in Scotland, designed to ensure people's rights
are realised.

The Declaration was created in collaboration with hundreds of people across Scotland and aims to ensure that people with mental health issues are treated as equals, with dignity and respect.

These aims are among 19 rights set out in the Declaration, which are often denied to people in Scotland experiencing mental health issues.

The Declaration launches in Edinburgh, with a Q&A session with representatives from Scotland's five major political parties.

A key right included in the Declaration is for people to have meaningful participation in decisions that affect their health and to receive the highest possible standard of healthcare.

Tracey King, 48, consistently had requests around her treatment ignored, which eventually led to her reaching a crisis point.

The mum of one from Glasgow was referred to a male psychologist after being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but Ms King asked if she could see a female therapist as she was uncomfortable with
unknown men, due to trauma she experienced as a young person.

She said: "I had tried my hardest to state my needs and even justify why I would like them met in my treatment, but I was ignored. I felt completely powerless and utterly invisible."

As Tracey's mental health deteriorated she experienced an eating disorder for the first time in nine years. After a year her therapist informed her that he was retiring in three weeks.

She said: "I had never been told that the treatment was time limited. I was crushed, my mental health took another dip and I had a really bad crisis.
I feel I was denied my human right to participate in my mental health care."

She added: "Now when I speak up about my needs, I make sure they are not ignored. If I think that I'm not being listened to I'll use my right to an independent advocate, which
is in the Declaration. I won't ever let anyone - healthcare professional or not - make me feel so invisible and as if I don't matter ever again."

Gordon Johnston from VOX said: "The Rights for Life Declaration sets out the rights that people affected by mental health conditions in Scotland are seeking real progress on.

"It has been created by people with lived experience and reflects the key areas where people don't feel they are treated equally and are discriminated against.

"Tracey's story shows the devastating impact on people when they aren't listened to. We all need to be able to participate in the decisions that affect us."

Simon Bradstreet, SRN's director, said: "Rights that include being treated with dignity, being given clear information, being able to hold people to account and being treated equally are not
new. These are set out in international human rights treaties to which the UK is already signed up.

"Often Scottish institutions don't know they are breaching people's rights when they fail to treat people with dignity and respect. But people also don't know they have these rights, or don't
know how to access them.

"This Declaration is accompanied by a Change Agenda which sets out some of the ways in which these rights can be realised.

"People can and do recover from the most serious mental health problems, but without accessing their rights, this is made much harder."

Judith Robertson, See Me programme director, said: "As well as the specific rights that ensure people get the care and treatment they deserve, the Declaration also calls for people to be given
access to rights on a range of day to day issues, such as access to education, participation in community life, the right to a family life and to be given a fair chance at work opportunities.

"Unfortunately people with mental health issues are not getting access to timely and appropriate care, and experience widespread discrimination
in work, education and in their local communities. In many cases people with severe mental health issues are likely to live 15 to 20 years less than those without. We want to see this change."

You can view the declaration at