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So how many of you have been to the hospital and really, really had your rights explained to you one on one? Did you go through a mental health inpatient stay and feel like you had options, even if you were there involuntarily?
If you did, that’s great and I’m so proud of you 🙂
If you didn’t, I’m still proud of you, I love you and I’m sorry you had to go through that. For you, I want to share some really important tips and information on your rights as a Behavioral Health Patient.
First. Know you have rights.
Sounds like a no brainer to some, but in my experience being in a mental health crisis kind of clouds your ability to do anything else but survive. Reading and understanding rights when you’re panicking, unmedicated, psychotic, or otherwise indisposed is just. not. realistic.
If you struggle with consistent mental health issues it’s really helpful to know your federal and states rights concerning treatment while in the care of a BHF (Behavioral Health Facility). It’s important to know the before you get admitted, while you’re in a better frame of mind because once you get there it’s pretty much a blur.
So what are your rights? Well here’s the cut and dry legalese version for those of you who like to party. It’s a great overview of what the U.S. Legal Code defines as rights for Mental Health Patients. If you’re looking for something a little more down to earth, check out this article by the group Mental Health America. It does a great job explaining what each of the 5 provisions of the law mean in actuality.
The 5 provisions:
- The Right to Liberty and Autonomy
- Protection from Seclusion and Restraint
- Access to Community and Inclusion
- Access to Services
- The Right to Privacy
It is also critically, critically important to have an Psychiatric Advance Directive (AKA Power of Attorney) at all times whether you’re hospitalized or not. This is a document that tells doctors your wishes in accordance to therapy, medications, and treatment during times you’re unable to communicate your wishes, such as in the midst of a psychotic episode.
On a less severe scale, it’s important to have this document while hospitalized because it serves as an excellent anchor for you to rely on in a place where you may feel adrift. It gives you power to call on when you’re up against the world, kind of like a Mental Health Sword of Power. By the Power of Greyskull!!!
Above all remember you have rights. You are powerful. No matter how much they try to tell you you’re not in control – you are. According to the MHA website “most people with even the most serious mental health conditions are capable of making important decisions about their mental health treatment most of the time.”
Mental Health Declaration of Rights – The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) provides an outline of what your rights are as a Behavioral Health Patient. ***Note here, IMO these guys are a little hardline against meds and psychiatrists, but they do have some good information – take the info on their site with a grain of salt***
Psychiatric Bill of Rights – Information, forms, and resources to help you completely fill out a PAD via the National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advanced Directives. Includes blank PAD forms and instructions for all 50 states.
While I think it’s incredibly important to know your rights in crisis situations, remember these resources are here to enhance your hospital stay and help you get the best possible treatment, not to end your treatment.
I firmly believe that doctors do have our best interests at heart but need our and our advocates’ guidance to made the best decisions for our health. For your consideration, here’s a link to a very poignant article describing the effects of misguided advocacy.
Stay sharp and make informed decisions.
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