The Declaration

whatis2What is the Rights for Life Declaration? 

The Rights for Life Declaration is a statement of the rights that people affected by mental health issues in Scotland are calling for. Its aim is to help achieve transformational change to the way people affected by mental health issues enjoy their rights.

The Declaration reflects the principles and standards of international human rights agreements that bind the UK and Scotland. These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is also guided by the rights-based PANEL principles of Participation, Accountability, Non-discrimination, Empowerment and Legality.

For more information about PANEL, visit the Scottish Human Rights Commission website.

How was it developed?

The Declaration is based on the views of hundreds of people with experience of mental health issues and those family and friends who care for them. It started to take shape at the landmark Rights for Life conference in June 2015. Following the event, the Rights for Life Steering Group organised widespread consultations on early drafts regionally, nationally and online.

Who is the Declaration for?

The Declaration is for people affected by mental health issues, who can use it to help claim their rights. The people and organisations responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights in Scotland can use the Declaration to inform their policy, practices and responses to people asserting their rights.

Why do we need a Declaration of Rights for Mental Health in Scotland? 

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 mental health issues 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.

What difference will the Declaration make? 

We hope this Declaration will help inform people about rights and support their realisation, but it is just a start. The partners involved in supporting its creation are committed to developing a programme of action designed to make the Declaration’s aspirations and demands more real in the lives of people affected by mental health issues in Scotland. The first step in this programme of action is a Change Agenda of four key ‘asks’ being launched in February 2016.

Read the Rights for Life Declaration and its Glossary

Read the Declaration in Plain English format

Download the Declaration