Journal Article

Advocacy for mental health: roles for consumer and family organizations and governments

Michelle Funk, Alberto Minoletti, Natalie Drew, Jacob Taylor and Benedetto Saraceno

in Health Promotion International

Volume 21, issue 1, pages 70-75
Published in print March 2006 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online December 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dai031
Advocacy for mental health: roles for consumer and family organizations and governments

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The World Health Organization urges countries to become more active in advocacy efforts to put mental health on governments' agendas. Health policy makers, planners and managers, advocacy groups, consumer and family organizations, through their different roles and actions, can move the mental health agenda forward. This paper outlines the importance of the advocacy movement, describes some of the roles and functions of the different groups and identifies some specific actions that can be adopted by Ministries of Health. The mental health advocacy movement has developed over the last 30 years as a means of combating stigma and prejudice against people with mental disorders and improving services. Consumer and family organizations and related NGOs have been able to influence governments on mental health policies and laws and educating the public on social integration of people with mental disorders. Governments can promote the development of a strong mental health advocacy sector without compromising this sector's independence. For instance, they can publish and distribute a directory of mental health advocacy groups, include them in their mental health activities and help fledgling groups become more established. There are also some advocacy functions that government officials can, and indeed, should perform themselves. Officials in the ministry of health can persuade officials in other branches of government to make mental health more of a priority, support advocacy activities with both general health workers and mental health workers and carry out public information campaigns about mental disorders and how to maintain good mental health. In conclusion, the World Health Organization believes mental health advocacy is one of the pillars to improve mental health care and the human rights of people with mental disorders. It is hoped that the recommendations in this article will help government officials and activists to strengthen national advocacy movements.

Keywords: mental health; advocacy; user organizations; family organizations

Journal Article.  3308 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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