Rights of the consumer

2007_0116walpole0118‘I am writing a short piece on the Survivor (or Consumer) Movement in Psychiatry at the moment.

This Movement arose initially from people who had received psychiatric treatment speaking out about what they considered to be the less helpful or abusive aspects of their treatment. They have tried to change the system so that poor practices and outright abuses cannot continue and impact negatively on other people.

Whilst writing this piece, I came across an article by Sally Clay, A Personal History of the Consumer Movement, which is well worth a read. How many things described here are relevant to people’s experiences in the addiction treatment field?

In this and a following blog, I’ll give you a few quotes, but can I recommend you read the whole article.

Sally describes being asked to look at a document on client rights drawn up by an Office of Mental Health.

“I agreed, and obtained a copy of the rights regulations. But as I read it, my anger mounted. The regulations were supposed to list rights enjoyed by mental patients — but in the document, the word “rights” never even appeared!

The regulations were written entirely from the point of view of the treating staff. When anything approaching civil rights was mentioned, it was not named as a right held by the patients, but instead was described as rules of behavior for staff.

For example, if consent to a certain medication was required, it was described not as the patient’s right but as measures to be taken by staff to obtain a signature.”

Have you seen a document on your rights when in treatment? And was the document really about your rights?’

I wrote this blog for Wired In To Recovery in October 2010.