In Massachusetts, the ‘Five Fundamental Rights’ have been in place for individuals staying in facilities funded, contracted or licensed by the Department of Mental Health (DMH). These include (in brief) the right to make and receive phone calls in private, the right to send and receive unopened mail, the right to humane conditions, the right to receive (and refuse) visitors, and the right to have access to clergy, legal advocates, lawyers, psychologists, etc. However, last Spring, a sixth fundamental right was added:
Reasonable access to fresh air for individuals hospitalized on psychiatric units.
In September, DMH will hold a public hearing calling for input on the implementation of this right, including how to define ‘reasonable access.’
The hearing will take place as follows:
Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 2pm to 4pm
@ the DMH Central Office, Legal Office,
25 Staniford Street, Boston
Individuals who plan to testify in person are advised to arrive 30 minutes ahead of the start time to sign up and to bring a written copy of what they plan to say.
Written testimony may also be submitted no later
than September 11 by clicking here.
For more information on the Five Fundamental Rights, click here.
For more on the new ‘Fresh Air’ right, click here to see
published in Worcester Magazine in April.