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Human rights in mental health
Petition on human rights in mental health in Scotland - please sign

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In 2003 the Scottish Parliament enacted the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act. However we do not believe that it complies with European Human Rights legislation and needs radically changed.

Four patients have their experiences of this Act online:

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The horrific stories above, which are the tip of the iceberg, should not be happening in a so called civilised society.

The Act is a very bad piece of legislation. In 2009 a survey showed that at the end of their course of treatment only about 50% of people thought that it was right for them to have been sectioned.

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The admission process in Scotland is very weak, relying on a single assessment by a doctor, with the patient having no legal representation. In England two doctors’ signatures are required.

In continental Europe a potential patient has much more rights. Anders Breivik in Norway killed 77 people. A 243 page report stated that he was a paranoid schizophrenic. However he was able to stand up in court and lucidly defend his actions publicly. He was able to examine the evidence and get excellent legal assistance and proved that he should not be placed and treated in a psychiatric institution.

Our tribunal system is very poor and heavily biased against the patient. A tribunal is typically held in private, with the patient heavily sedated and the panel consisting of a psychiatrist, a lawyer and a health official. We are calling for public hearings with the composition of the panel being made up of ordinary citizens.

The policing of our Act is non-existent too. Making a false statement on a document is an offence under section 318. However no-one has ever been charged.

If this Act is changed it could influence the position in England and perhaps the rest of the Western world

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