Thursday, October 12, 2023

Mental health, human rights and legislation

In a previous post, I mentioned the opportunity to respond to a draft version of the WHO/OHCHR guidance and practice document on Mental health, human rights and legislation. The final version has now been published. The guidance aims to assist countries in adopting, amending, or implementing legislation related to mental health.

As the document says, “legislation on mental health has legitimized and, in some cases, facilitated … human rights violations”. As I also said in a previous post, “The fundamental problem with mental health legislation is that it is discriminatory and this must change". A further post of mine notes that, “Flawed use of mental capacity tests has led to the denial of the right to legal capacity [of disabled people]”. The use of coercion in mental health services may be more to do with a failure of treatment than treatment itself (see yet another previous post).

There should be no barriers to accessing good quality mental health services and support to those that need it. Keir Starmer committed the Labour Party to a similar position in his leader’s speech at the recent Party Conference (see tweet). As I said in my post about the review of the Mental Health Act in Scotland, “Significant harms to certain human rights … [should] be justifiable only exceptionally, on the basis of very significant advantages in the respect, protection and fulfilment of the person’s human rights overall”. 

Livestream of the launch event of the document is available. This video and the full document need to be disseminated widely.

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