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Mental Health and Rights

What human rights mean to young people:

“There are basic human rights, and you should have them through your whole life.”

“We did work on this at school in modern studies. It’s about entitlements, civil rights, and everyone is equally entitled. But I don’t really remember what they were.”

“I wouldn’t know what to say if someone infringed on my rights. I feel like they’re this intangible thing that don’t apply in ‘real life’.”

“In primary school, they always do something on places in Africa and rights. They sometimes make a box or a backpack to donate to children in Africa, or they’re given water bottles to talk about clean water. The point isn’t always clear. It’s not necessarily an effective way to teach about your own rights. It shows that children and young people are in a better position here, but not necessarily why the situation is this way. There are better ways to introduce your own rights.”

“We’re taught about rights in other countries, but never our own context.”

Young people’s understanding of rights in relation to mental health:

“You should have a right to a say in your treatment.”

“You have a right to access support no matter [your] age, gender, race, orientation, etc.”

“Everyone should have an unbiased diagnosis.”

“Young people should have the right to express mental health issues without resulting in negative consequences like dismissal from work.”

Young people’s views on taking a human rights-based approach to mental health support and services:

“The same rights should apply to everyone, regardless of mental health issues or not.”

“It’s easy to breach rights with someone with poor mental health.”

“People think rights are less important if you have a mental health problem. My sister was left in hospital lying on the floor with nothing all night because the hospital staff thought it was better for her, but it wasn’t and broke her right to a good standard of living.”

“Lots of services get away without respecting rights because young people don’t know their rights and what they’re entitled to. So services don’t give the right or adequate support or treatment. Young people don’t know they’re being treated badly until they hear what respectful treatment should be.”

“If the child or young person is accessing support for mental health, they should also be given information about their mental health rights so they know what they’re entitled to from the start of their treatment.”

“Buses in Dundee have stickers at the front saying, ‘Our drivers have the right to be respected’. We could put notices in other places, like at the GP or in other services, saying ‘You have the right to…’.”

“It’s important to teach people about rights – especially young people, as they may feel less isolated and more confident to express when they are uncomfortable with something.”