New WHO guidance aims to end rights abuses in mental health services |


Globally, mental health care continues to be primarily provided in psychiatric hospitals, and rights abuses and coercive practices remain all too common, according to the UN agency.

A more holistic approach

The guidance It recommends that mental health provision should be in the community and include daily life support, such as facilitating access to housing, as well as education and employment services.

“These comprehensive new guidelines make a strong case for a much faster transition from mental health services that use coercion and focus almost exclusively on the use of medications to manage symptoms of mental health conditions, to a more comprehensive approach that takes into account the specific circumstances and wishes of the individual and offers a variety of approaches to treatment and support, ” He said Dr. Michelle Funk of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, who led the development of the guide.

Continuing grave violations

Who is the It is estimated that governments currently spend less than 2% of their total health budgets on mental health. This spending is mainly allocated to psychiatric hospitals, except for high-income countries where the figure is around 43 percent.

The guide promotes human-centred services grounded in a human rights-based approach, as recommended under the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2020-2030, which was adopted last month.

The World Health Organization has indicated that although countries have increasingly sought to reform their laws, policies and services in relation to mental health care, following the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, few have made progress in meeting human-requested changes. International. rights standards.

The agency said that gross human rights violations and coercive practices remain extremely common in all countries. Examples include forced entry and coercive treatment, as well as manual, physical, and chemical restraint, unsanitary living conditions, and physical and verbal abuse.

Show good practice

The new guidelines outline what is needed in areas such as mental health law, service delivery, finance, and workforce development for mental health services to comply with the Disability Rights Convention.

It contains examples of community mental health services from countries such as Brazil, India, Kenya, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom that have demonstrated good practices, for example in non-coercion, community inclusion and respect for people’s right to make decisions about their treatment and their lives.

Services highlighted include crisis support, mental health services provided in public hospitals, outreach services, assisted living approaches and support from peer groups. Cost comparisons indicate that they provide good results and are preferred by users. It can also be provided at a cost similar to mainstream health services.

“The shift in the provision of mental health services must be accompanied by significant changes in the social sector,” said Gerard Quinn, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

“Until that happens, the discrimination that prevents people with mental health conditions from leading full, productive lives will continue.”

More to track …
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