Troubled young people have rights, and a national organization is there to support them. Youth ERA (Mission: “Youth ERA works to empower young people and create breakthroughs with the dedicated systems that serve them.”) Youth ERA offers peer support, social and educational support, and advocacy for youth with brain disorders. The Oregon Chapter, in partnership with Portland State University, wrote a Youth Bill or Rights for teens to young adults between ~16 to mid 20’s. As you can see in the Rights document below, they believe youth should be allowed to guide their mental health treatment, and receive respectful, humane care.
“YOUTH ERA BILL of RIGHTS – We believe that all youth should have the following rights in their mental health care:
1) Youth have the right to be leaders of their psychiatric treatment plans.
Youth should be informed of the possible side effects of medications, how long recommended medications take to go into effect, and the possible long-term effects of recommended medication. Service providers should work with youth to explore possible alternatives to using psychiatric medication before medication is given. Communication between youth and all medical providers should be collaborative, clear, and with limited use of medical terminology.
2) Youth have the right to evaluate their mental health services.
Mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other service providers should provide opportunities for youth to evaluate the satisfaction of their services throughout the duration of care in a respectful and non-threatening manner. This includes evaluation of the relationship with the provider, counseling plans, and implemented treatment models.
3) Youth have rights to services that are as noninvasive as possible.
When youth are transitioning into new services, mental health programs should strive to make the transition as accommodating as possible for the youth. Youth should be consulted on the ways they would like to end their relationship with the current provider and whether they would like the current provider to share their file with their new provider. Providers should share if there will be any changes in the costs of services and/or insurance coverage.
4) Youth have rights to get treatment from trained, sensitive providers.
Youth should have access to mental health professionals that are familiar with the unique needs and challenges of youth with mental health needs. All mental health professionals should have specialized training that fosters positive youth development and support. Youth mental health service consumers should be included in the creation and implementation of these trainings.”
This document was created and signed in 2009 by 30 mental health service-experienced youth gathered in Portland, OR, from the following states: California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
Youth ERA rights are similar to the “Mental Health Consumer Rights” developed by adult mental health consumers, which is appended at the end of this article.
Parents should support these rights
I say “bravo,” these are appropriate and necessary–anyone receiving treatment must be comfortable and safe with care providers, and treated with dignity and respect, period But I’d like to see something similar for parents and caregivers, too, who also participate in treatment and need to feel respected and heard.
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Adults with mental illness had already developed a bill of rights for the same reasons as the youth–to receive sensitive, humane services and participate in all aspects their treatment.
Adult Consumer Bill of Rights – for adults in mental health service systems
- Information Disclosure: Consumers have the right to receive accurate, easily understood information and may require assistance in making informed health care decisions about their health plans, professionals, and facilities.
- Choice of Providers and Plans: Consumers have the right to a choice of health care providers that is sufficient to ensure access to appropriate high-quality health care.
- Access to Emergency Services: Consumers have the right to access emergency health care services when and where the need arises.
- Participation in Treatment Decisions: Consumers have the right and responsibility to fully participate in all decisions related to their health care.
- Respect and Nondiscrimination: Consumers have the right to considerate, respectful care from all members of the health care system at all times and under all circumstances. An environment of mutual respect is essential to maintain a quality health care system.
- Confidentiality of Health Information: Consumers have the right to communicate with health care providers in confidence and to have the confidentiality of their individually identifiable health care information protected.
- Complaints and Appeals: All consumers have the right to a fair and efficient process for resolving differences with their health plans, health care providers, and the institutions that serve them, including a rigorous system of internal review and an independent system of external review.
- Consumer Responsibilities: In a health care system that protects consumers’ rights, it is reasonable to expect and encourage consumers to assume reasonable responsibilities.
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) established the Consumer Bill of Rights Workgroup to promote and implement the Presidential Advisory Commission’s Consumer Bill of Rights and Responsibilities in health care. http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/consumersurvivor/billofrights.asp