When placed in a mental health care institution, you have the right to be held in conditions that are not inhumane or degrading.

To evaluate whether you are being held in accordance with human rights, you should pay attention to the following conditions:

  • Is your room large enough taking into account the number of people being held in it?
  • Do you have an opportunity to walk around and use common areas?
  • Are men and women placed in separate rooms?
  • What is the hygiene like in the institution, for instance, are your room, showers, toilets and other common areas clean?
  • Is privacy ensured in toilets and showers?
  • Is the temperature in your room, and in the institution in general, well regulated?
  • Is the quality and quantity of your food acceptable?
  • Do you have access to enough water?
  • Have you been able to take showers regularly and received necessary hygiene products?
  • Have you been able to carry out other activities relating to hygiene, like washing your clothes?

The authorities running the institution are also responsible for the safety of the institution. For example, they must ensure the safety of any constructions, fire safety etc.

What human rights violation may there be?

Inhumane or degrading treatment

Being held in inappropriate conditions may be very humiliating and cause physical and psychological suffering. For example, if you are denied food or water, or if you have to use a very dirty and inappropriate toilet, or if your room is overcrowded, cold or dirty. Inappropriate conditions may result in a violation of the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment.

However, the suffering due to these conditions has to reach at least a minimum level of severity to result in a human rights violation. When assessing whether you have been held in conditions that are inhumane or degrading, such things as the duration of the situation, the physical and psychological effects, and your age, gender and level of health would be taken into account. Often, the conditions will be evaluated as a whole and not on the basis of a single, isolated incident.

For mistreatment to be considered as torture, the actions have to be particularly serious and cruel and cause very severe suffering. Read more about how to evaluate whether your rights have been violated.

Right to life

Very poor conditions, especially for a long time, may also lead to the death of vulnerable people staying in mental health care institutions. Such a situation may result in a violation of the right to life. Read more about how to evaluate whether the right to life has been violated.

Read about the possibility of complaining.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education