Your Rights

Everybody has rights. Rights are really important but not everyone knows about them.

What are my rights?

Rights are those laws, guidelines and conventions which say how a person should be treated. All children and young people in the world have the same basic rights, and these rights are listed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

So what does having RIGHTS really mean anyway?

• It means you have a right to a fulfilling life, the joys that it has to offer, and everything you need to get the best out of life

• You have a right be treated well and to be protected from mistreatment

• You have the right to be listened to on all matters affecting you.

All of ‘your rights’ say that you have the:

• Right to express yourself.

• Right to be heard and listened to properly.

• Right to receive information in a way that you can understand and that you can remember (this includes everything that you are told about your care and treatment).

• Right to good health care and to be looked after properly.

If you want to read more about the Convention on the Rights of the Child see the Appendix.

How do I use them?

Your rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights Act are enforceable. This means that they can be used to argue that something should be changed or even bring a case to court.

However, not all of your rights are ones which can be enforceable in law, instead some are set out as as guidelines or as statements of how things should be. They can be used to argue your point of view in meetings and other situations.

Even if you have no choice over being in a mental health unit, the Mental Health Act gives three principles that must be followed by anyone involved in your care. These are:

• that any decision taken about your care and treatment should be done in your best interest;

• that any decision taken about your care and treatment must respect your right to dignity, bodily integrity, privacy and autonomy; and also

• where it proposed to give you treatment, you should be told about this proposal, as much as you can be, and given the chance to have your views heard before it is decided if you should have the treatment.

The least you should expect when you go into hospital is that:

• Your best interests must always be taken into account.

• You should be involved, as far as you can be, in the planning of your care and treatment, how it is then provided and reviewing how useful or effective it is.

• You should be informed of the type or nature of treatment that is being proposed; the reason for it and how it is likely to affect you.

• You should always be kept as fully informed as possible, and receive clear and detailed information concerning your care.

• Your views, wishes and feelings should always be considered.

• You should always be treated with respect.

• Your progress and possible changes in your care plan should be reviewed at regular intervals.

• Anything that is done to effect your life (like how long you stay in hospital) should be as unrestrictive as possible, and mean the least possible separation from your family, friends, community and school.

• You have the right to have contact with family and friends either through visits or on the phone (except under exceptional circumstances).

• Anything that is done effecting your life should result in the least amount of stigma.

• You should have access to education that is suitable
and right for you.

• You have a basic right to food, shelter, water, warmth, a comfortable environment, confidentiality & reasonable privacy (both physical privacy and privacy in regard to your personal thoughts and feelings).

If you feel that people involved in your care and treatment are
not properly listening to you and involving you, do not be
afraid to speak up, and let people know what you think
would be best for you.