Role of Lawyers in Mental Health Advocacy

It is great that mental health is getting a lot more attention than it had in the past. The advocacy, debate, conversations, and policies are all higher than ever! However, with the fast-rising figures of individuals in dire need of mental health services, it still appears as if we are not doing enough. Significantly, depression, anxiety, ADHD and autism have been alarmingly increasing.

Lawyers are relevant in the struggles of persons with mental health challenges and effecting the provisions of the law regarding such persons. What exactly can a lawyer do to take this raging bull by the horn?

There are various provisions of the law regarding decision-making in relation to the treatment and recovery of persons living with mental health challenges. Lawyers have to understand these mechanisms to help guide the decision making of their clients.

Lawyers should listen to their clients to ensure that they understand and can represent their interest, while promoting their strengths and wishes so that their position can be respected by others. This can guarantee personalized management and recovery-oriented services from mental health workers.

Lawyers can also ensure that the management of their clients’ condition offers the least possible restriction of their rights – whether privacy, dignity, autonomy, or liberty. Mental health challenges should never be a reason why the rights of a person would be relegated, and lawyers must make sure of it.

There are tools that support decision-making for securing the best interest of clients with mental health problems. Using these tools can help clients maximize their control and involvement in the decisions regarding their management.

Many mental health challenges do not affect the ability to make the decision immediately, but may progressively worsen to the point where such a person can no longer make decisions for themselves. Lawyers should consider taking a prior statement from such clients to understand and preserve what their future treatment preferences are. The lawyer should also make sure that this statement is adhered to when the time comes.

Persons with mental health issues often have someone they can trust to make their decisions for them. This could be a spouse, child, parent, or friend. This “chosen person” helps them exercise their rights, protect their interests and make their treatment decisions. As a lawyer, ensure you make these kinds of tools known to your client. The nomination has to be in writing and duly signed and dated by the person with mental health issues. Lawyers can also advise a client about seeking a second psychiatric opinion concerning diagnosis and treatment plans. This is to ensure that they are getting the very best quality of mental health services.

Although family law has a continuously growing need, and may not be as lucrative as a couple of other niches, there are still a lot of people who find it difficult to advocate for themselves. This is an area where Lawyers can learn to find more fulfillment. The lack of adequate legal help points to the fact that a problem needs solving. Lawyers should realize how much help they can render by offering services to people with mental health issues who cannot afford a lawyer to represent them, their interests, and their rights. As a profession, Lawyers need to change how they look at mental disability and to support hose in need.

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Sometimes, divorce, family, and estate matters are difficult to navigate. Fortunately, they do not have to be with the assistance of a compassionate, knowledgeable attorney who is willing to guide you every step of the way. If you need a seasoned firm to help you with any divorce, family or estate-related matter, please do not hesitate to contact Collis & Griffor today to schedule a consultation.

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