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Know Your Rights
One of the civil rights movement’s major victories for individuals was to clarify that holds on mental health clients are civil, not medical holds, and that they need to be adjudicated in court, not by medical professionals. This ended the use of indefinite, involuntary holds that mental health clients had long endured. And from this victory, self-determination emerged.
California’s Welfare and Institutions Code spells out the rights that all mental health clients enjoy:
• The right to dignity, privacy and humane care.
• Freedom from harm, including unnecessary or excessive physical restraint, isolation, medication, abuse or neglect.
• Right to receive information about their treatment and to participate in planning their own treatment.
• Services designed to meet clients’ individual goals and diverse needs and concerns, and that take into account their strengths, motivations and disabilities.
• Treatment that helps clients to be more independent.
• Right to prompt medical care.
• Information in a language the client understands and services that are sensitive to cultural diversity and special needs.
• Keep and use personal articles, including toiletries.
• Right to consent, or refuse to consent, to treatment with two exceptions: a legally defined emergency or a legal determination of capacity.
• Freedom from hazardous procedures.
• Right to receive the services of a patient’s rights advocate who has no direct or indirect clinical or administrative responsibility for the person receiving mental health services.