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Report on the right of physical and mental health

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pūras, has recently published a Report on the right to mental health (“Right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”). This report was the result of extensive consultation among a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives of the disability community, users and former users of mental health services, civil society representatives, mental health practitioners, including representatives of the psychiatric community and the World Health Organization (WHO), academic experts, members of United Nations human rights mechanisms and representatives of Member States.

 The following highlights some of the main conclusions of the report:

•    Mental health has often been neglected and when it does receive resources, it becomes dominated by ineffective and harmful models, attitudes and imbalances. That has led to the current situation of the grossly unmet need for rights-based mental health promotion and care. People of all ages, when they have mental health needs, too often suffer from either an absence of care and support or from services that are ineffective and harmful.
•    The failure of the status quo to address human rights violations in mental health-care systems is unacceptable. As mental health emerges as a policy priority, it is crucial now to assess the failure to chart a better way forward, reaching consensus on how to invest and how not to invest.
•    The urgent need for a shift in approach should prioritize policy innovation at the population level, targeting social determinants and abandon the predominant medical model that seeks to cure individuals by targeting “disorders”.
•    Today, there are unique opportunities for mental health. The international recognition of mental health as a global health imperative, including within the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, is welcome progress. The right to health framework offers guidance to States on how rights-based policies and investments must be directed to secure dignity and well-being for all. To reach parity between physical and mental health, mental health must be integrated in primary and general health care through the participation of all stakeholders in the development of public policies that address the underlying determinants. Effective psychosocial interventions in the community should be scaled up and the culture of coercion, isolation and excessive medicalization abandoned.

Consult the full report on the links below.

© ODDH Disability and Human Rights Observatory