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Human Rights Concerning Mental Treatments Essay

1702 words - 7 pages

A thin line draws the limits of what is morally acceptable, and controversial topics stand along its contours. The conflict zone where treatments for mental health transgress human rights can be evaluated within a frame of ethics. The field of ethics is here to help us make moral judgments and therefore to reflect on what is good for individuals and the society. Thanks to applied ethics, one of the major branches of this moral philosophy, evaluating polemical subjects is possible.
Panza and Potthast (2010, p. 281) define human rights as “a set of basic entitlements that human beings are said to possess as members of the human species. […] These basic rights capture a key sense of what ...view middle of the document...

This sends a clear message to the Parliament that they need to change the law.
Therefore, with ethics as a support space for reflection and the necessity for the law to comply with human rights, the patient’s rights for mental health treatment in the UK should not interfere with their human rights. This essay will examine the value of controversial mental health treatments against ethical standards.

The infringement of human rights in treatments for mental health is about not only the law, but also most of all in its extent to the practice in the mental health sector. For people living with mental health problems, three of the human rights are significant: the right not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way; the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence; and the right to liberty. The BIHR underlines the conditions in which there is a breach of the patient’s human rights as follows: “unchanged sheets, excessive force used to restrain you, your calls for help being routinely ignored, washing or dressing you without regard to your dignity, neglect or abusive treatment, and other forms of bad practice”. Depending on circumstances, the use of restraint and detention in medical practice promotes controversial debate. This practice becomes unacceptable when the specific factors of the situation display a breach of human rights. A judgment made on January 14, 2011 illustrates a case where a patient has been unlawfully detained in a hospital of the London borough of Hackney. At the core of this judgment was the section 3 of the Mental Health Act 1983, and the claimant applied for a writ of habeas corpus against the Trust. The patient’s brother, his nearest relative, objected to the application stipulating the detention of the patient, but the application form signed by the Approved Mental Health Professional affirmed the opposite. In this case, the Article 5 of the European Convention, “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law” has been breached. After appeal, the patient has been granted compensation from the local authority. This example testifies how human rights can be transgressed in treatments for mental health, and the need for the medical practitioners to ensure every step of the procedure when detaining a patient has been fully reviewed by both parties.

Moral rules and principles established by ethics allow us to look upon controversial medical practice with a sharp eye. The aim of ethical judgment is to reach a state of fairness and righteousness. Ethical theory enables practitioners to make decisions considering the patient’s human rights. Two ethical theories assist us in this task: deontology and utilitarianism, each having a different response to human rights than the other. Deontology originates from Kant’s theory that associates the concern of...

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