People with schizophrenia are among the most vulnerable and dependent users of mental health services with high level of psycho-social needs, often requiring intensive and sustained treatment and care. If they are to be empowered in their ability to make informed choices and if trust is to be established between service users and providers, they will need to be aware of their rights, and informed how to enforce such rights. Staff planning and the delivery of mental health systems must take into account the legacy of communities’ distrust and fear regarding mental health services. Only if people with mental health problems and their families trust that respect for dignity, confidentiality and safety are guaranteed will they have the confidence to approach mental health services for the first time, and to continue to engage with mental health services thereafter’’.

Mental Health charters have been produced, mostly for settings such as work or hospitals, as a call against stigma or to confirm rights of patients in local settings. However, patients typically form a small minority, and lack the power and influence in such group to be heard. These charters tend to be quite generalized, lacking specific standards to address the rights and needs of people who require special attention or are at high risk of neglect. WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Commission published a statement on user empowerment in mental health.  No charter for patients with schizophrenia is available.


The absence of a charter specifying the rights and expectations of people with schizophrenia is of special concern, since they not only suffer the stigma and discrimination of a mental health problem, but they have many other disadvantages.


The charter will cover rights that are important to the psycho-social and physical well-being of people with schizophrenia needing support, treatment or care from the mental health system. It will use the experience gained from the formulation of other charters and documents. It is expected that, subject to agreements reached by the working group, the charter will include standards and targets on areas such as access to comprehensive and modern evidence-based treatment and care, safety of treatment, and protection from neglect and abuse, quality that is assured, involving patients in the process, respect for the individual and all the elements of their identity, information provided about all aspects of the treatment process, choice always involving the service users, participation and Inclusion in society, covering housing, benefits, education, employment etc., accountability and means of appeal.

The process will last one year. GAMIAN-Europe will convene 2 meetings, produce a report and disseminate to stakeholders using its contacts and those of its partners. It is anticipated that it will be launched at the European Parliament.

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