The Be RIGHT project aims at raising awareness of the human rights of people with mental health issues by producing tailored made trainings for professionals working in service delivery and care settings. As part of these trainings, professionals will learn about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the main legal framework at international level on the rights of persons with disabilities, and how the human rights of people with mental health issues can be better respected in the daily practice of service provision.
The UNCRPD has played a crucial role in advancing the promotion of the human rights of people with disabilities. Twelve years ago, the international community came together to ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of people with disabilities would be gathered in one specific Convention of the United Nations. Currently, 161 countries have signed the UNCRPD being this the first ratified UN Convention by all European Union national governments. In doing that, they agreed to promote and protect the right to life, health, freedom from torture and exploitation, freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination, independence, privacy, family, education, employment, movement, rehabilitation and other guaranties.
The Convention is built around the basic but fundamental principle of freedom. It is meant to be emancipatory for people with disabilities and along these lines paves the way for society to treat them as equally free and capable as other citizens.
Mental health conditions and how environmental factors can influence those vary for each individual. In this spirit of freedom and emancipation that the Convention inspires, it is only right that the persons living with mental health conditions are involved in addressing and designing the care services available for them, hence the importance of their right to autonomy and participation. Be RIGHT works using a protocol of co-production where the trainings designed in the project have been developed together working with people with mental health issues. Co-production applied to this context is a method of work that involves the users in the design and organisation of social and health services. Equal partnership and collaboration between service providers and people using these services are the essence of the practice. By being active participants and not passive recipients, social services can reach higher levels of participation, accountability, awareness and empowerment for users.
Some of the case studies provided by professionals working with people with mental health issues and involved in this project highlight situations where certain human rights are not respected or taken into account. Between those, we could stress the right to autonomy, the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom from torture, the right to privacy, the right to participation and information or the right to dignity. The reasons behind these scenarios vary from lack of sufficient staff, poor staff working conditions or lack of knowledge and awareness about the human rights of people with mental health issues. Through Be RIGHT, we would like to contribute to improve the life of those with mental health issues who need care. We believe that social services can play a key role in ensuring the human rights of people with mental health issues are respected and in promoting co-production as a method of work where all actors involved collaborate in designing the services of the future. Applying a human rights-based approach starts by using the PANEL principles: Participation, Accountability, Non-discrimination, Empowerment and Legality. Let’s engage in co-producing the P from Participation…!