Laws, Rights, and Responsibility

submitted by Twopoles

The purpose of this article is to increase awareness about mental-health law. It is targeted to bipolarworld's new visitors, as well as, regular visitors. The spectrum of this issue is enormous as different states and countries all have different laws governing mental health. My intent is to encourage at least a few readers to "surf the web" for laws and rights which pertain to them or their loved ones.
Mental illness encompasses various emotions of nearly all ages. There is no preference to race or gender. Its onset ranges from pediatric to geriatric. Local, regional, and federal laws have been enacted to protect the rights of individuals and family members. While there are similarities, there are substantial variations depending on the person's residency.
Major advocacy groups vigorously lobby legislators to protect and amend your legal rights. They also track appropriations and voting records of key government officials. Adequate treatments may hinge upon an advocate's effort and dedication.
Cases of involuntary committal are usually accompanied by strong emotions of the person committed and the person responsible for the committing. It is to everyone’s advantage to contact an attorney. These episodes are confusing and sometimes it's advisable to designate an emotionally-calm person to act as a liaison concerning the patient's/resident's legal rights.
As "food-for-thought" listed below are ten common issues which should be addressed upon admission to a mental health facility


bullet Can the patient refuse medication?
1. Voluntary admission
2. Voluntary admission with advance directive
3. Involuntary admission
bulletWhen can the patient leave?
bulletCan the patient hire an attorney if held against their will?
bulletCan the patient refuse certain visitors?
bulletCan the patient have access to a phone?
bulletCan the patient conduct legal business from the facility?
bullet What medicines will be administered?
bulletWhat are the side effects of the medicine?
bulletCan the patient refuse treatment?
bullet What is the policy on physical restraint or isolation?
bullet What if there are no means to pay the bill?


At times it is necessary to be your own advocate and stay abreast of legal issues in health care. Rights and responsibilities can, and do, fall through the cracks during mental-health episodes. You need to be able to distinguish between normal treatment and infringement of your rights. The "best bet" is to contact a lawyer or a competent paralegal who can explain the laws in layman's terms; furthermore, contacting a national advocacy group may work to your advantage. These groups can provide information concerning current laws and pending legislation for mental illness.
Our vigilance of mental-health law is of utmost importance for anyone afflicted or significantly involved with any type of mental illness. It is the foundation for successful treatment and may also be the basis of legal action for substandard medical treatment. Please utilize the links provided to access a small sample of possibly pertinent information about your mental health rights.




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