Generally speaking a family’s rights to information are dependent on the expressed wishes of the person with mental health difficulties. However, it is different for the parents or guardians of children and adolescents, as their role is clearly defined in legislation.

As family or a carer you have the right to:

  • A safe environment

  • Be involved in your relative’s care with their consent

  • Visit your relative at times that are convenient to both you and them (if they are in in-patient care)

  • Be treated respectfully and considerately

  • Receive clear responses to queries you make

  • Make a complaint and know its outcome

  • An interpreter

  • Refuse to participate in teaching or research at any time

You also have the right to the following information:

  • Legal rights and entitlements

  • Names and qualifications of those treating your relative

  •  Significant events (including transfers) involving your relative

  •  If an in-patient, plans for your relative to be discharged (sent home) into your care

  •  Explanation of the cost of care

Equally you have the responsibility to:

  • Give accurate information

  • Co-operate with investigation of any complaint you make

  • Consider and respect others

  • Respect confidentiality – this means clear boundaries are in place regarding family involvement. Communication between families and the mental health service is in accordance with the wishes of the service user. Families or chosen friends/ carers receive information about: what services are available, how they work and how to access them, especially in a crisis.

  • Meet any financial obligations

And if your loved one is an in-patient:

  • Refrain from bringing in any alcohol or other harmful substances

  • Comply with staff direction in matters of safety and visitation policies

  • Abide by other rules made known to you

More information: provides information on communicating effectively with health care professionals and information on health services.

Content provided by Shine and adapted for by the National Office for Suicide Prevention. Find out more about our content partnerships