Protecting the Human Rights of People with Mental Illnesses: A Call to Action for Global Mental Health

Vikram Patel, Arthur Kleinman and Benedetto Saraceno

in Mental Health and Human Rights

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199213962
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754500 | DOI:
Protecting the Human Rights of People with Mental Illnesses: A Call to Action for Global Mental Health

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In their commentary, Vikram Patel, Arthur Kleinman, and Benedetto Saraceno observe that while the rights of people with mental disorders are violated in all regions of the world, and while headway has been made towards addressing these in many Western settings, this is not so for the majority of people with mental disorders residing in developing countries. The authors underscore their horrifying abuse using de-identified images as well as text. The authors closely examine the ethics of using such images. These portray forgotten people, denied basic care, often robbed of the ability to protest their grievances, stripped of rights and dignity. There is reason to believe that the practices portrayed – privations, restraints, seclusion, abuses, neglect – are common or certainly not unrepresentative, rather than aberrations. These circumstances prevail, not only in mental institutions but in homes and communities. The authors highlight the origins in several factors, notably stigma, institutional cultures, lack of community mental health initiatives, and the silence of the global health and mental health communities. They contend that combatting this shameful situation is the single most important priority for global mental health. They have declared a call to action on this issue, in the form of a global mental health movement.

Chapter.  4837 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychiatry

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