The Right to Participation of People with Mental Disabilities in Legal and Policy Reforms

Oliver Lewis and Nell Munro

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:
The Right to Participation of People with Mental Disabilities in Legal and Policy Reforms

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In a chapter that reminds the reader of the importance of broad participation in the flourishing of democracies, Oliver Lewis and Nell Munro argue that the participation of people with mental disabilities in legal and policy reforms relating to their lives is critical in realizing a full range of rights. Participation improves the relevance, credibility and outcome of reforms, empowers people with mental disabilities, and communicates an inclusive message about equity to wider society. The practice of societies excluding mental health (or health) service users when designing laws and policies affecting their lives has changed in recent decades: the authors explore the reasons. This entitlement, embedded in General Comment No. 14 of the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is confirmed by the CRPD’s shift from welfare to rights. In addition, user involvement may ensure broader human rights compliance, assist securing equality and the dignity of one’s identity (so easily violated by coercion, stigma, and social exclusion), and it strengthens democracy. They consider means of enhancing participation, who should be consulted, the costs of participating or not, and questions surrounding user status (this may be future as well as past or present). Governments and mental health professionals have special responsibilities to ensure participation of service users.

Chapter.  7833 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychiatry

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