Visiting an incarcerated patient breaks down the social isolation of detainees by providing physical, mental, and emotional support. Maintaining adequate connections with the outside world is an essential right for any patient isolated with limited human contact. In practice, access to patients in the forensic hospital is all but denied. Our history of attempts describes the experience. Mental health patients are legally entitled to rehabilitative care and support, not punishment based treatment. Therefore to withhold visitation rights of a patient, which is an essential aspect of their social devolvement during the rehabilitative process, is an unethical infringement upon patient’s rights. When compared with prisoners, qualification as a mental health patient entitles one to a different standard level of care. It is not only important for the patient, but also their family and the individuals of the community impacted by their disorder.
The key rights of a patient are to receive adequate support while incarcerated that promotes rehabilitation and to further developmental abilities to re-enter society. Adequate contact with the outside keeps the patient in tune with society, contributing to an easier reintegration. Visitation rights serves as a mechanism for further development. The objective of visiting an individual who is incarcerated is to promote a sustained level of support, understanding the patient’s sentence that can eventually evolve into a social “safety net” throughout their sentence and release.
Visitation from loved ones who support the wellbeing of the offender provides a priority level of emotional care, family bond, and maintains relationships throughout the absence. Visiting incarcerated mental health patients often offers an era of support in the areas of accountability of the patient’s treatment, family unification, and maintaining a connection to the outside world.
Case Study: Saeed Dexfouli
From April 2009 until September 13, 2011, several dozen citizens of good character including psychiatrists, lawyers and other people of goodwill were blocked access to visit and help Saeed Dezfouli after nine and a half years locked in a closed hospital. It is an issue that was raised before the NSW Supreme Court as a reason for its intervention over the Mental Health Review Tribunal. The Mental Health Review Tribunal was also asked to intervene. Nobody responded.
Varying reasons have been offered from the Health Department after it had been raised continuously to the Clinical Director of the Forensic Hospital, the Statewide Director of Forensic Mental Health, the psychiatrist leading the treating team and still the visitors are not allowed in.
To learn more about Saeed's case and our campaign, click here.