HELP! I’m locked up on an inpatient psychiatric unit

Virginia Teixeira, J.D., Helen Mehm, and Cheri Bragg

Outline for Workshop

  1. Help LEGAL ADVOCACY vs. NONLEGAL ADVOCACY:
    Advocacy and/or legal solution
    Discuss the differences between an the role of an attorney as advocate and non-attorney as advocate.
    Discuss benefits of each.

  2. ADVOCACY RESOURCES -- PEOPLE:
    a. Family/friends
    b. Peer advocates
    c. Hospital staff, i.e., social workers, mental health workers, security
    d. Hospital advocates—patient advocates, CRO’s etc.
    e. Professional advocates –Protection and Advocacy and CLRP

    Discuss the roles of the above advocates and where people can find them.

  3. ADVOCACY STRATEGIES
    a. Request policies and handbooks
    b. Review policies and handbook to see if staff is following their own policies
    c. Request agency staffing charts
    d. Know how to use in-house complaints and grievances
    e. Know external complaint options
    f. Write letters; attend meetings; ask follow up questions

  4. SOME OF THE POSSIBLE RIGHTS WHICH MAY BE DISCUSSED:
    a. Connecticut Patients Bill of Rights
    b. Right to wear own clothing
    c. AWOL risk label used to deny rights
    d. Make and receive phone calls and have visitors
    e. Restraints and seclusion—used as punishment; imminent danger standard, least restrictive measure, failure to release patient appropriately
    f. Involuntary medication hearings
    g. Informed consent
    h. Access to fresh air
    i. Discharge
    j. Access to Probate Court

    Discuss why these issues are important to people who are inpatient from stories people have presented to us.

WHAT CAN NON-LEGAL ADVOCACY DO ABOUT ISSUES ON THE INPATIENT UNIT? Discuss how the above rights issues have been addressed through non attorney advocacy.

WHEN IS IT TIME TO CONNECT WITH LEGAL ADVOCACY?

Learning Goals and Objectives for this Workshop

Our participants will know the differences between legal and non-legal advocacy. They will understand civil rights issues that impact people who are inpatient on psychiatric units. They will become familiar with available non-legal advocacy resources and strategies. And lastly they will know when non-legal advocacy has run out of options and it’s time to look to legal advocacy resources. We encourage participants to discuss their personal experiences with having advocates involved in the hospital process.