Human Rights

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“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…” Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Human rights-based approaches (HRBA) and ethical clinical practice are at the core of how I practice the profession of psychology. But, my lengthy immersion into a health care system has illuminated fractures where the business of providing health services divulges from the provision of health CARE for me.

I loved my position at the hospital and felt strongly that inclusion of quality mental health care can and does make an incredible difference in the quality of life for the humans in the health system. I stayed for a long time because it aligns with my values of HRBA practice that provision of these services be PART OF a health care system and accessible. I held a position that allowed me to make a difference, influence a system and shift the trajectory for people, both as patients, providers, employee and systemically. I respect, honour and admire my colleagues and worked WITH them to help every single person in our clinics.

But, personal circumstances have lead to a veer into private practice. In order to balance my human rights with the rights of others I felt compelled to shift how I provide my services so as to be better able to value to each person’s individuality, including my colleague’s and my own.

I have had to grapple and dig deep with self-exploration to shift my view of my dual roles of Psychologist AND mother. My moral compass spun to balance the rights of all those in my world. In the end, I had to make a change in order to be congruent AND defend the human rights of all, my family, my clients, my colleagues, my employer, my community and myself.

Through shifting my work situation, I feel empowered to embrace becoming an active defender of human rights. I have committed to actively participate, engage, monitor, promote and improve human rights practices, specifically in regards to mental health. I feel a sense of strong commitment to participate in the process of understanding human rights, ensuring that rights are in fact enjoyed, and that abuses, injustice and other forms of harm are dealt with.

Human rights violations do not just occur across oceans and in war zones. They occur here. They occur now. They are not evil people doing evil things. Human rights violations happen and no system is immune to violating human rights because the rights of people evolve, knowledge evolves, our world evolves and systems can become rigidly entrenched either by necessity, by ignorance, by bureaucracy, by complacency, or fatigue, or malice, or … just even inattention.

Human Rights are not idealized aspirations. They are a legal formalized requirement to ensure the inherent dignity, equality, and inalienable rights of humans are supported, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Human rights and the protection of them are everybody’s responsibility.

For myself, my personal experiences have increased my knowledge, awareness and passion for the rights of others AND has freed me to get off my high horse of being “the helper of the vulnerable” to claim my own human rights, including the right to support others in a way that is congruent with my moral, ethical and professional code in a manner that honours and respects ALL the roles of my life.

Human Rights are not an esoteric, cerebral discussion where violations occur far away. Human rights are our rights. Your rights. My rights. Our rights. They are here. Now. And evolving. The path forward needs to include ongoing exploration, education, awareness building, and collaboration. Human Rights are a living system which we all are involved. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

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