Associate feature: Ensuring rights-based mental health law results in rights-based practice
Lucy Mulvagh is the director of policy and communications at the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland
Mental health engages a wide range of human rights, like the rights to health, participation in civic society, privacy and family life. However, people with mental health problems in Scotland still don’t enjoy their rights as fully as they could.
For several years, the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) has worked with our members and partners on mental health, equalities and human rights.
We welcomed Scottish Government commitments to take a human rights-based approach to mental health, including the Scottish Mental Health Law Review, led by John Scott QC.
This ambitious programme is intended to assess and improve the rights of people subject to current mental health and related laws. We also value the approach being taken by the Review itself; human rights-based and ensuring that people with lived experience are at the centre.
The review aligns with a growing national emphasis on rights: they are core to the National Performance Framework, and there’s work being led by Cabinet Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP and Professor Alan Miller to incorporate international human rights law into Scots law. It also complements the growing focus on recovery, ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), and trauma-informed approaches.
Mental health has a far greater public and policy profile today than it did in 2005, when current mental health law came into force. This is arguably even more pronounced as a result of COVID-19. Nevertheless, mental health is still referred to as the ‘Cinderella’ service; lagging behind physical health services in terms of funding and prioritisation.
The ALLIANCE has made several recommendations to the Review that you can read about on our website-www.alliance-scotland.org.uk. We look forward to continuing to work with the Review, our members and partners to ensure that the rights of people with mental health problems are respected, protected and fulfilled.
This piece was sponsored by the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland. www.alliance-scotland.org.uk