Rights Protection within the Public Mental Health System

  • Date: Jan 01 1980
  • Policy Number: 8019

Key Words: Mental Behavioral Health, Education

The American Public Health Association,

Understanding that rights protection and advocacy for those receiving mental health services are necessary in order for them to exercise their rights and in order to assure that limitations of their rights are appropriate; and

Realizing that external advocacy alone, unbalanced by rights protection mechanisms within the mental health service delivery system, leads to lawsuits and consent decrees as the primary means to assure exercise of rights by the mentally disabled; and

Believing that mental health professionals would prefer the opportunity to assist the mentally disabled to exercise their rights to the extent possible, rather than be ordered to do so by courts; therefore

  1. Encourages development of rights protection mechanisms within mental health delivery systems which:
    1. Specify civil, environment, and treatment rights of recipients of service;
    2. Are sufficiently independent of the provider of services in order to take unresolved problems to a higher authority;
    3. Have adequate resources to reach all recipients, especially those in dependent living situations; and,
  2. Calls for rights protection mechanisms which function to:
    1. Prevent violations of rights by providing education and training to recipients, staff, and others on rights; assisting with revision of rights-related policies and procedures; and consulting with staff on rights-related matters;
    2. Operate a complaint system—receiving and investigating allegations of violations of rights; assuring remedial action when rights are violated; and assisting complaints with allegations concerning problems outside the jurisdiction of the provider of services;
    3. Monitor ongoing activities and reports concerning the delivery system to assure remedial action on apparent violations of rights; and,
  3. Calls for the APHA to present testimony on the need for balance between internal rights protection and external advocacy in current and future mental health services legislation; and,
  4. Recommends sustained federal support for rights protection mechanisms internal to mental health delivery systems; and
  5. Calls for the APHA to publish in The Nation's Health information outlining the issue and its importance to mental health professionals.

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