Team B receives calls and emails each week from our members sharing their experiences with mental health services. Many express how they believe their rights have been breached in a variety of settings and services.
Whilst mental health services are primary to the complaints received from our members, we also hear about issues with a diversity of services including police and other front-line responders, Centrelink, housing and tenancy, emergency departments, and hospital security.
There exists however a common thread amongst the issues raised with us: how people are treated by staff and services when they are experiencing mental and emotional distress.
Take for example the use of forced coercive approaches such as seclusion and restraint practices (including chemical restraint). If we are truly to understand the needs of people who are experiencing mental and emotional distress, who want a place to feel safe, to heal and recover, there needs to be a focus by services on the basic human rights of people who experience mental and emotional distress. Our members are shouting this out loud, yet are services, systems and decision-makers listening?
Our human rights were designed to protect us: by preserving dignity, respect, equality, equity, justice, freedom, and as a barrier to discrimination. So the question remains: how is it that people’s basic rights continue to be breached? This is not to say that there is not great work being undertaken by clinical staff and doctors, but rather a call-out for services to take a leadership approach to cultural change which focuses on a human rights approach within in their organisation.
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission: “The principle of non-discrimination is a fundamental one in human rights law – all human rights should be enjoyed by everyone regardless of factors such as race, sex or disability’’.
Another question comes to mind: if stigma and discrimination towards people living with mental health issues are within our society, is it not possible that stigma and discrimination have permeated our services?
As your rights are important to you (and to us) and there are lots more questions we could pose, our 2020 campaign will throw a spotlight on your rights in services. We are calling all members and allies of Being to participate; we want you to tell us what is important to you and what specific issues you would like us to focus on.
We are asking our members and allies to complete a short survey and either:
- make three selections from the list of top issues (as advised by our members), or
- advise us of other issues which have impacted you which you believe were a breach of your human rights.
Once the survey closes, we will be holding a series of four group workshops to finalise the feedback and the campaign topics. Stay tuned for more information on dates of those workshops.
We want to hear from those far and wide and we want to make sure that our members are included in this campaign. If you are from a rural and remote area, email us at the link below and tell us where you are from and what’s important to you in ensuring your rights are upheld by services.
Please don’t forget to complete the survey here!
Regards, Irene and Team B