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People labeled mentally ill have the same rights as any citizen. However, additional protections through state and federal legislation have also been put in place due to the fear and discrimination that consumers of mental health services regularly face.

Disability Rights Ohio and the Disability Rights Ohio PAIMI Advisory Council believe that self-advocacy should be the first avenue of recourse to correct rights violations. But stigma and prejudice are so pervasive that self-advocacy efforts are often unsuccessful. Attempts by people labeled mentally ill to promote change or redress wrongs are too often ignored or minimized.

Disability Rights Ohio believes that advocacy means to plead the cause of another, as defined by that individual, because that person is not listened to in her or his own right. Disability Rights Ohio advocacy efforts are defined by the person. This philosophy of zealous advocacy also drives the Disability Rights Ohio PAIMI Advisory Council's mission, composition, outreach and screening process. People labeled mentally ill comprise the majority of Council's membership. All potential candidates are screened for their respect for and commitment to individual rights. Council's philosophy and autonomy are conducive to growth and change, both in its advisory capacity to Disability Rights Ohio and in its internal governing process.

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