This online tool aims to give you information about how human rights can help you have more control over your own life and be treated with dignity and respect.
This tool is particularly relevant for people with mental health or mental capacity issues, and those who advocate on their behalf. It gives you tips on how you can identify whether an issue you have with your care or treatment is a human rights issue. It gives suggestions about how you can use human rights to overcome these challenges using real life examples.
The focus of this tool is on your human rights when you are receiving health and care services, e.g. at your GP, in hospital, community care, care homes etc. Most of the information will also apply to other situations like education, housing or involvement with the police, but please note that these areas are not specifically covered in this tool.
We use the term ‘mental health’ to include anyone who may have a “disorder or disability of mind” (this is the definition in the Mental Health Act). This can include depression, dementia, eating disorder, autistic-spectrum disorders, behaviour changes caused by brain damage and personality disorders.
Capacity is about your everyday ability to make decisions about what happens to you, including decisions about your care and treatment.
Your mental capacity can be impaired for a number of reasons, such as mental illness, learning disability, dementia, brain damage or intoxication.
The Mental Capacity Act sets out a test to assess whether you have capacity to make a decision. The test is if you are able to:
Capacity is task specific. This means:
A public official should first think that you do have capacity to make a decision and, if they are not sure, they should do an assessment.
This is because of your human rights.
If it is decided that you do not have capacity to make a decision, a public official will make the decision for you. That person must make the decision in your best interest. This means the decision must be what is best for you, not for anyone else.