Living with mental illness can be very tough. Thankfully, there are strict laws in place that protect those who suffer from mental illness from unjust treatment in the workplace, laws that all psychiatric and psychological medical practitioners must follow to protect your privacy, and growing public awareness of mental illness due to awareness campaigns. However, as you likely know, some people choose to break laws and many everyday people still don't understand what it is like to live with mental illness and how their actions affect people who are already having a tough time keeping their peace of mind. Read on to learn about two of your rights as a person suffering from mental illness and what you can do when you feel they have been violated.
You Have a Right to Live Your Life Free of Intentional Symptom Triggers
If you are like many people who suffer from mental illness, you may avoid people, places, and events that are detrimental to your mental health. Of course, you likely can't avoid everything that causes a decline in your mental health, such as the job you work to make ends meet and stressful life events, but you try the best you can.
There are times you may force yourself to confront some of your biggest fears, especially if confronting them is a part of your journey to healing. However, no one else has the right to perform an act to intentionally worsen your mental illness or cause a flare of symptoms, such as a panic attack.
A woman in Colorado made the news headlines in 2004 for suing her neighbors who had knocked on her door, causing her to experience a panic attack, as she was working to overcome a panic disorder caused by a recent home break-in. The woman had to visit the hospital for help with her sudden symptoms, which resulted in her getting a hefty bill for her medical services. She won the case and was awarded a small settlement to cover the medical bill.
The case was only controversial due to the statement of the girls who knocked on the woman's door stating that they had no knowledge that she had a panic disorder. However, if you have panic disorder, PTSD, or another mental illness that is triggered by specific acts and inform your friends, family, and co-workers of those triggers, then they don't have the right to intentionally trigger you for their own amusement or in an attempt to "help you."
If someone does anything to cause you emotional distress or trauma, whether intentional or not, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss the details. You must make sure to get your case started before the statute of limitations is up in your state and, to help prove your case, document every detail of the event while it is still fresh in your memory.
You Have a Right to Proper and Private Psychiatric Treatment
If your mental illness is new or you have had it for years, but have just recently begun visiting a psychiatrist to help you finally begin to overcome your illness, then you need to know the laws that protect patients of psychiatrists. First, realize that your psychiatrist is bound by HIPPA laws, just as other medical providers are, and those regulations forbid him or her from speaking about your diagnosis, treatments, medications, and any information you share with them with anyone other than you.
Your psychiatrist is also forbidden by law for engaging in any type of sexual conduct with you or developing a romantic relationship with you, even if you were to attempt to initiate the conduct or relationship. This misconduct is called exploitation of the trust relationship; you may be in a highly emotional state when visiting your psychiatrist that leads you to develop romantic feelings for them, but they are not, under any circumstances, allowed to take advantage of that.
Your psychiatrist must also only prescribe you medications that they know will benefit you and that, even when their side effects are taken into consideration, will do more "good" for you than "bad." However, due to the fact that many mental illnesses and the medications used to treat them are still so misunderstood, you have to let them know how a medication makes you feel after you start taking it, and make them aware of the specific side effects you suffer from when taking them.
If your psychiatrist prescribes a medication that you determine down the line has caused you much more harm than good, even when you made them fully aware of what you were experiencing when taking it, then speak with a personal injury lawyer. If it turns out that the medication was not something another doctor practicing good judgement would prescribe a patient with your specific mental illness, then your psychiatrist may be guilty of medical negligence. However, if it turns out that the medication was commonly prescribed by other psychiatrists at the time, yet was more harmful than the drug-maker admitted at the time, then your personal injury lawyer may instead determine that the drug-maker was to blame and suggest that you pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the medication instead.
If you suffer from mental illness, then life for you is already tougher than it should be. You need to understand your rights and what to do when someone causes you additional mental stress, whether they do it intentionally or unintentionally. Keep these two rights in mind and never let anyone get away with causing you more emotional distress than you already have to deal with. For more information, contact a lawyer from a firm like Hornthal Riley Ellis & Maland LLP.