Commission welcomes mental health proposals

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Plans could see Scotland’s mental health legislation reframed along human rights lines.

5th November 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

The Scottish Human Rights Commission has welcomed proposals to improve the rights of people with learning disabilities and autism.

In a submission to the Independent Review of Learning Disability and Autism in the Mental Health Act, the commission welcomed plans to change Scotland’s mental health legislation to a model that treats disabled people as equal citizens.

The commission also praised the review’s “promising, practical proposals” to support removing the barriers faced by disabled people, rather than “treating” the individual.

These proposals would align mental health provisioning in Scotland with international human rights obligations, meaning people with learning disability or autism would have their rights, will and preferences respected on the same basis as other people.

Judith Robertson, chair of the commission, said the proposals were part of a “welcome and decisive move away from substitute decision making.”

She added: “The review proposes legislation to provide for positive rights, including rights of access to specialist support, care and treatment, and rights to independent living. We broadly support these recommendations and believe a new law of this kind would better protect the human rights of people with learning disabilities or autism.”

Ms Robertson noted that the issues raised by the review are complex and in some cases contentious, and acknowledged that the review team had engaged with the human rights framework in a meaningful way.

She said: “The review has also led the way in engaging with all aspects of a human rights based approach embodied by the PANEL principles (Participation, Accountability, Non-discrimination and equality, Empowerment and Legality).  In particular, people with lived experience of learning disability and autism have been involved in all parts of review and great efforts have been made to make these complicated ideas accessible to all.

“This work will also be extremely helpful for all stakeholders engaging with the other current reviews in mental health – the Mental Health Review led by John Scott QC and the Independent Review into the Delivery of Forensic Mental Health Services led by Derek Barron.

 “Finally, the review’s work will be informative as we and colleagues on the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership take forward recommendations to develop a new Act of the Scottish Parliament to further incorporate economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

The commission’s full response can be read in full on its website. The review is expected to publish its final report in December.