Right to communicate

When placed in a mental health care institution involuntarily, you still have the right to communicate with the outside world. Of course, your right and the opportunity for communicating is restricted, due simply to your involuntary placement, but it must not be denied completely.

You have the following rights of communication:

  • to meet with your relatives and other persons
  • to meet with your legal representative
  • to communicate via phone or otherwise with the outside world
  • to send and receive letters and parcels
  • to have a daily walk

Information about rights

The medical personnel must inform you immediately about these rights in a way that you understand them and, if necessary, repeatedly. The medical personnel must explain to you that you may use these rights according to the internal rules of the hospital, which are to respect the daily order and also the rights of the other inhabitants.

Temporary restrictions

If, because of your condition, there is a real risk that you may harm yourself or others, or you act aggressively, the doctor may prohibit meetings with your relatives or other people, or your daily walk. After a careful examination of your case and where necessary for the safety of others, the doctor might also arrange your meetings with relatives or other persons in the presence of medical personnel. The doctor must provide reasons in a note in your record about the restrictions and the duration. This prohibition must be cancelled immediately, if the risk no longer persists.

What human rights violation may there be?

Any restriction of your communication intervenes with your right to private life. This is because you are no longer free to choose when, for how long and in what manner you communicate with the outside world. However, not every intervention of this kind is a violation of your human rights. The restrictions may only become a violation if they are not allowed and explained by law, if they are too strict, too long or are not necessary for a person in your condition. 

Read about the possibility for complaining.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education