Persons living with some form of mental health conditions are no less humans and equally deserve every fair treatment anyone is entitled to.
In Ghana one document that directly explains all the rights therein should one experience any form of mental illness is the mental health act 846.
The Mental Health Act 846 was passed in 2012 by parliament. The overall aims are: to ensure the rights and quality treatment of persons with mental disorder; and to stipulate changes to the organisation, provision and funding of mental health services.
Rights of persons with mental disorders
- ) 1 (A person with mental disorder is entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms as provided for in the Constitution.
(2) A person with past or present mental disorder shall not be sub-jected to discrimination and, whatever the cause, nature or degree of the mental disorder, has the same fundamental rights as a fellow citizen.
(3) A tenant or employee who develops mental disorder shall not be (a) evicted from the place of residence of that person, or (b) dismissed from the place of employment of that person on the basis of mental disorder.
Basic human rights
- (1) A person with mental disorder has the right to enjoy a decent life as normal and as full as possible which includes, the right to education, vocational training, leisure, recreational activities, full employment and participation in civil, economic, social, cultural and political activities and any specific limitations on these rights shall be in accordance with an assessment of capacity.
(2) A person with mental disorder is entitled to humane and dignified treatment at any time with respect to personal dignity and privacy.
(3) A person with mental disorder has (a) the right to wear personal clothes while in a treatment facility and to maintain personal belongings subject to space limitations, and (b) the right to have access to and spend personal money for personal purchases unless the mental capacity of the person does not allow that.
(4) A person with mental disorder has the right to information provided by newspapers and other media.
(5) At the time of admission, patients, their caregivers or their personal representatives shall be informed of the relevant information pertaining to admission including their rights. Incapacity and human rights
- A person who by reason of a mental disorder is unable to give consent shall not be deprived by another person of medical treatment, education or any other social or economic benefit. Standard of treatment
- (1) A person with mental disorder has the right to the highest attainable standard of mental health care.
(2) A person with mental disorder is entitled to the same standard of care as a person with physical health problems and shall be treated on an equitable basis including quality of in-patient food, bedding, sanitation, buildings, levels and qualifications of staff, medical and related services and access to essential medicines.
(3) A person with mental disorder shall not be subjected to torture, cruelty, forced labour and any other inhuman treatment.
Related: Free International Course on Mental Health for Health Professionals and human rights advocates
(4) A person with mental disorder shall have access to psychotropic drugs and any other psychosocial rehabilitative interventions at different levels of care as appropriate.
(5) Intrusive and irreversible treatment like electro-convulsive therapy and psychosurgery shall not be used for emergency cases
Complaints about management
59. (1) Complaints from patients, their relatives or caregivers and staff shall be made and documented by a senior mental health personnel and the complaints shall be reported to the head of the facility who shall take appropriate action within forty-eight hours. (2) If the action by the head of the facility is not satisfactory to the parties concerned an appeal may be made to the Tribunal by the aggrieved party and the Tribunal shall respond within twenty-one days .
- (1) A person with mental disorder has the right to confidentiality.
(2) Records which identify a person, the manner of behaviour of the person as well as the diagnosis and treatment shall not be disclosed to another person or agency without the person’s written consent or the written consent of the personal representative of the person where the person is unable to give consent.
(3) Despite subsection (2), written consent to provide confiden- tial information may be waived where there is a risk of imminent danger to another person or where the disclosure is required by law. (4) A patient, caregiver or the personal representative of the patient has the right to appeal to the Tribunal against waiving the right of the patient to non-disclosure of information. Privacy and autonomy’
- (1) The rights of a person with mental disorder include freedom to receive in private, visits from a legal practitioner, relatives and any other visitors, unless the attending psychiatrist or head of the facility considers it unsafe.
(2) A person with mental disorder has the right to be examined in private and in the absence of observers other than the psychiatrist or medical staff specifically required for the consultation or examination.
(3) A person with mental disorder shall not be used for teaching and research purposes without informed consent and where that person is incapable of giving informed consent, the consent shall be given by the personal representative of that person.
(4) Research shall not be conducted on a person incapable of giving informed consent if the research (a) can be conducted on a person capable of giving consent; and (b) is not necessary for promoting the health of the person or the health of the population represented by the patient.
Access to information
62.. (1) A patient shall have free and full access to information about the mental disorder and the treatment plan of that patient.
(2) Where the patient is incapable of understanding the treatment, the personal representative of that patient shall have access to this information.
(3) Access to that information may be granted or denied by the clinical representative of the head of the facility if the information is harmful to the well being of the patient.
(4) Primary care givers shall have access to information about the illness of the patient except where the patient objects.
(5) The objection may not apply if the information is absolutely essential in the interest of the patient or for the safety of the care giver.
63.. (1) An employer shall not terminate the employment of a worker merely on the grounds of present or past mental disorder or while the worker is receiving treatment for mental disorder.
(2) Where an employer has reasonable cause to believe that a worker is suffering from mental disorder severe enough to affect the work output of the worker, the employer may assist the worker to seek medical advice in accordance with the prescribed procedure.
(3) The employer may engage the worker at a level where the worker can best perform for medical reasons but where the worker is found to be unfit for employment the employer may terminate the contract of employment of the worker in accordance with the prescribed procedure.
(4) The provisions of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) shall apply with respect to the remuneration of a worker on the termination of a contract of employment.
(5) A worker aggrieved by a medical report provided in accor- dance with this Act may seek redress from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice under the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice Act, 1993 (Act 456).
(6) The employer or another person may follow the procedure for a certificate of urgency under section 48 where the situation of a worker is suspected to be severe enough to be treated as an emergency case or where the worker is at personal risk or a risk to others or property.
Protection of vulnerable groups
- (1) Female patients in a mental health facility shall have separate sleeping accommodation from male patients.
(2) Females with mental disorder shall have the same treatment as men with mental disorder in matters relating to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
(3) Female patients shall not be discriminated against with respect to treatment, community care, voluntary and involuntary treatment.
(4) Special provision shall be made for the accommodation of females whose conduct may at any time be harmful to them or other patients.
- (1) A child receiving psychiatric treatment shall as far as possible, be treated in a least restrictive environment.
(2) In cases where they require admission, children shall be accommodated separately from adults, and their developmental needs shall be taken care of.
(3) Parents or guardians of children under the age of eighteen years receiving psychiatric treatment shall represent them in matters concerning the mental well being of the children including consent to treatment.
(4) Special provision shall be made for the accommodation of children whose conduct may at any time be harmful to them or other patients.
(5) Irreversible treatments such as psychosurgery for mental disorders shall not be administered to children.
(6) The opinions of children shall be taken into consideration in issues of their care including treatment, depending on their age and capacity.
- (1) The aged who require treatment for mental disorder shall be accommodated separately, and are entitled to free physical treatment in accordance with age exemption policy.
(2) Special provision shall be made for the accommodation of the aged whose conduct may at any time be harmful to them or other aged patients.
(3) Irreversible treatment for mental disorders shall not be adminis- tered on the aged.
Persons with mental retardation
- (1) A person shall not be admitted to a mental health facility merely for mental retardation unless there is evidence of gross misbehaviour or perceptual disturbances.
(2) When a person with mental retardation is admitted to a mental health facility for mental health care, the person shall have separate accommodation.
(3) Intrusive or irreversible treatment shall not be administered on a person with mental retardation unless authorised by the Tribunal.
Prepared by QualityRights Ghana