About the Principles
The principles of good mental health care and treatment have been set out in law. They were developed from consultation about what people felt was important to them when they were being cared for in hospital or in the community.
What are the principles?
For service users, the principles set out how professionals should work with you and your carers. For professionals, the principles provide a framework to help you consider the ethical aspects or alternative approaches to a person's care and treatment. The principles don't give legal rights in the same way as other parts of the mental health and human rights law do. But you can use the principles as a guide to what professionals and organisations that help people with mental health should be doing. The principles apply to everyone who uses mental health services.
What do the principles say?
The principles say that whenever a professional is involved in making a decision about a person's care and treatment he or she must:
- Take the past and present wishes of the person into account
This could be through talking with the person, talking to family and friends who know the person well, looking at the person's advance statement or working with an independent advocate.
- Make sure the person gets the information and support he or she needs to take part in decisions
The information provided should be clear and easy to understand. If the person needs additional help, this should be looked into.
- Take the views of any carer, named person, guardian or welfare attorney into account
When the person is too ill to make decisions, friends and family should be involved and should get the information and support they need to do this.
- Look at the full range of options for care
The specific needs of the individual should be taken into account and reflected in the care that is provided
- Provide treatment that is of maximum benefit
If a person is receiving care and treatment that restricts his or her daily life, the least he or she could expect is that the treatment is of benefit.
- Take account of individual backgrounds, beliefs and abilities
Care and treatment should promote respect for the individual's abilities, cultural and ethnic background and religion.
- Make sure that any restrictions on individual freedom are the minimum necessary to keep the person safe
Treatment for a mental illness might require some restriction of individual freedom. These should be kept to a minimum and balanced with the benefit to the individual.
- Make sure that a person who is detained is not treated less favourably than other patients
Where a person is being treated under mental health law his or her care should be of an equal quality to anyone else's.
- Carers' needs should be taken into account and carers should be given information and support to help them
Carers should be consulted and involved in decisions. Carers should be given the information they need to provide support and if they have support needs of their own, these should be identified and addressed.
- Take special care of the welfare of young people under 18 years of age
Young people should be given mental health care and treatment that is designed to meet their specific needs. This might include being supported to stay involved in education, or being supported to keep in touch with family and friends
You can order a handy wallet card to help remind you what the principles are. This card was produced by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland. It is their job to check promote the principles in individual care and treatment. The card says how you contact them if you or someone else's care isn't in line with these principles.
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get a copy of the 'Are you being treated with respect?' wallet card.