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The rights of persons who contact the Mental Healthcare Services

Art. 16 of the Mental Health Department Regulation (approved in December 1995) is the "User's Bill of Rights" for persons utilising the mental healthcare services. The list is reproduced below, not as a useless exercise or redundant list of the same rights sanctioned by the Italian Constitution, but in order to underline how very difficult it is for persons who suffer from mental disorders to access/enjoy these rights in a real, tangible way. In stressing the "weakness of rights", the "User's Bill of Rights" commits the services, that is, all of the Mental Health Department's operators, to find ways of guaranteeing the daily exercise of these rights, and most especially:

  • the right to free expression, in every place and circumstance
  • the right to have one's moral, religious and political beliefs respected
  • the right to have one's sexual preferences respected
  • the right to communicate at any time with whomever one chooses
  • the right to have one's abilities recognised and reinforced, and not simply the evidencing of problems and disabilities
  • the right to be informed regarding any treatment, and to be involved in any decisions that might effect one's health or life
  • the right to not undergo actions which violate one's physical integrity and personal dignity (especially any form of physical restraint)
  • the right to have one's basic needs met and be accompanied in a process of personal emancipation
  • the right to choose the team providing care and specific professional figures within this team
  • the right to form groups and associate with others
  • the right to choose an operator of the same sex for any treatment/manipulation involving physical contact.


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