People with mental health issues must be able to participate in the decisions that affect their health, according to mental health organisations and people across Scotland.

To ensure this happens, the Scottish Recovery Network (SRN), See Me and Voices Of eXperience (VOX) have launched the Declaration of Rights for Mental Health in Scotland.

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.

Included in the Declaration are the rights:

To be treated with dignity and respect and be free from discrimination on any grounds. 

To the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

To free, meaningful and active participation in decisions at all levels, using coproduction as standard and independent support if required

To hold duty bearers to account, provide feedback with impunity and access to justice when rights are infringed

To individual and collective advocacy

To equal treatment and recognition by the law and to its equal protection and benefit

To enjoy the full range of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.

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.”

Simon Bradstreet, SRN’s director, added: “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’s 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.”

To read the Declaration in full, click here