Mental health as a universal human right through the lens of Picker’s Principles of Person Centred Care 

World Mental Health Day, observed every year on October 10th, serves as a global platform to advocate for mental health awareness, reduce stigma, and promote access to mental health services. The theme for 2023, “Mental health is a universal human right,” underscores the importance of recognising and protecting the rights of individuals with mental health conditions. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of this theme and how implementing person centred care in mental health services can help ensure these rights are upheld.

The importance of rights and protections

Rights of individuals with mental health conditions:

The theme highlights that mental health is a human right, just like physical health. It is crucial to understand that individuals with mental health conditions have the same fundamental rights as anyone else. These rights include privacy, dignity, autonomy, and non-discrimination. 

Combating Stigma: 

Stigma surrounding mental health is a significant barrier to seeking and receiving treatment. Recognising mental health as a universal human right helps combat stigma by emphasising that individuals with mental health conditions deserve the same respect and support as those with physical health conditions. 

Protection from Violations and Discrimination: 

Mental health-related violations and discrimination can be pervasive. By framing mental health as a universal human right, it becomes a legal and ethical imperative to protect individuals from these violations. This includes protecting against involuntary hospitalisation, forced treatment, and other human rights abuses. 

Implementing person centred care

To ensure that mental health services are available, accessible, and acceptable for everyone, it is essential to adopt person centred care principles. Let us consider how the Picker Principles of Person Centred Care align with this goal: 

Involvement in decisions and respect for preferences 

People have the right to be involved in and to make decisions about their health and care. Providers should work with people in equal, reciprocal partnerships, and should respect people’s choices and preferences – including but not limited to those that reflect their background, social, and cultural values.

Clear information, communication and support for self-care

People using health and care services should receive reliable, high quality, and accessible information at every stage in their journey. Information should be provided at appropriate times, in an understandable way, and should support people to make informed decisions and manage their own care. 

Emotional support, empathy and respect

Person centred care demands a caring and holistic approach. People providing care should show empathy and respect, recognising an individual’s emotional needs. For care to be compassionate it must be delivered with respect, sensitivity, and appreciation of the person as an individual. 

Effective treatment by trusted professionals

Positive therapeutic relationships are at the heart of person centred care. People should receive clinically appropriate and effective care that meets their needs and is respectful of their preferences. Interactions with care professionals should inspire a sense of confidence and trust. 

Involvement and support for family and carers 

Providers and staff must acknowledge the importance of people’s families, carers, friends, and wider support networks in their overall health and wellbeing. Their involvement should be welcomed and supported. The emotional impact of caring responsibilities should not be underestimated: carers need to feel supported throughout.

Attention to physical and environmental needs

People deserve to be treated and cared for in safe, comfortable environments that afford them privacy and dignity. Similarly, care professionals should be mindful of people’s physical needs – including pain management, assistance with activities, and personal care. 

Continuity of care and smooth transitions 

Care journeys bring people into contact with a range of providers and staff. Ensuring these transitions are seamless is vital to person centred, coordinated care. All people should experience continuity in information; in the relationships they have with staff; and in the way their care is managed. 

Fast access to reliable healthcare advice 

Access to the right services at the right time is essential for high quality care that meets individuals’ needs. Access includes: ease of scheduling appointments; minimal waiting for referrals or treatment; and availability of appropriate professionals and advice. Fast, easy access is important both for routine care and unplanned crises. 

What you can do

By embracing the principles of person centred care, we can create a mental healthcare system that respects individuals’ rights, provides compassionate support, and is accessible to everyone. Mental health is a universal human right, and it is our collective responsibility to make this right a reality for all. You can find out more on World Mental Health Day and how to be involved here.

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