Rights for Life Declaration launched 22 February 2016


This landmark document is a statement of the rights being called for by people affected by mental health issues in Scotland. Its aim is to help achieve real change to how people affected by mental health problems enjoy their rights.

The Declaration is accompanied by the Rights for Life Change Agenda. This is intended to generate action to deliver the progressive realisation of the rights of people with mental health issues in Scotland today.

Watch some of the highlights from the official Declaration launch event, which was held in Edinburgh on the 22nd February 2016, or take a look at the photo album.

We are greatly encouraged to see that, since its launch, the Declaration has been publicly endorsed by the Scottish Green Party and has the support of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.


While people affected by mental health issues have the same rights as other members of Scottish society they face significant barriers in realising them. These barriers are well known and widely documented.  People with experience of mental health issues:

  • Face unacceptably high levels of stigma and discrimination.
  • Can die 20 years younger, are poorer on average and have fewer opportunities in life than the general population.
  • Can have their rights legally limited as a consequence of poor mental health and laws designed to protect their rights are ignored with impunity.
  • Are excluded from decision-making processes that affect their lives.
  • Are denied access to timely, acceptable, quality care and support.

Often Scottish institutions often don’t know they are breaching people’s rights when they fail to treat people with dignity and respect. But people also don’t know they have these rights, or don’t know how to access them.

The Rights for Life Declaration doesn’t create any ‘new’ rights. Instead, it reflect the principles, rights and standards of international human rights agreements that already bind the UK and Scotland and is guided by the rights-based PANEL Principles: Participation, Accountability, Non-discrimination, Empowerment and Legality.

The Rights for Life Declaration and Change Agenda are intended to achieve real, sustainable and transformational change to the way that people affected by mental health problems enjoy human rights.

Use the links above and to the right to out more about the Rights for Life Declaration and Change Agenda, as well as the event that started it all in June 2015.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #rightsforlife.