Consultation on identifying strategies to promote human rights in mental health (2017)
The Human Rights Council, in its resolution 36/13, recognised that persons with mental health conditions face widespread discrimination, stigma, prejudice, violence, abuse, social exclusion and segregation. They also endure unlawful or arbitrary institutionalization, overmedicalization and treatment practices that fail to respect their autonomy, will and preferences.
In order to address these violations, the Council held a consultation focused on identifying strategies to promote human rights in mental health. The consultation was open to all interested stakeholders.
Practitioners from all regions presented their practices and shared experiences on how they were moving towards a human rights-based approach to mental health. Participants from the floor also took part, presenting their own practices and good practices.
Key recommendations of the consultation
- States should abandon the biomedical approach to mental health and embrace a collective process that gives persons with mental health conditions and users or mental health services a leading role in developing the services.
- States should safeguard users of mental health services, ensuring that all services are based on the free and informed consent of the individual users, and repeal any policies or laws that allow the use of restraints or other forced measures.
- States should implement people-centred and human rights-based support and services which are community-based, participatory and contextually- and culturally respectful.
Read all the recommendations in the consultation report (A/HRC/39/36), available in the 6 UN official languages.
Background documents of the consultation
- Programme of work
- Concept note
- Resolution 36/13 of the Human Rights Council
- Mental health and human rights - Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/34/32)
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/35/21)
- Reports of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities
High level opening presentations
- Mr. Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights
- Ms. YeniRosa Damayanti, Perhimpunan Jiwa Sehat (Indonesian Mental Health Association)
- Ms. Svetlana Akselrod on behalf of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization
- Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization
- H.E. Mr. Pedro Nuno Bártolo, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations Office in Geneva
- H.E. Maria Nazareth Farani Azevêdo, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office in Geneva
Presentations of the panellists
- Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities
- Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar – closing statement
- Dr. Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
- Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Mr. Tim Martineau, Deputy Executive Director a.i., UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
- Dr. Michelle Funk, Coordinator, Mental health policy and service development, World Health Organization (WHO)
- Ms. Mónica Ferro, Director, Geneva Office of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
- Ms. Nina Ferencic, Senior Regional Adviser on Adolescent Health, Development and Participation and on HIV/Aids, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- Ms. Magda Milena Osorio Montealegre, Head of the Mental Health and Psychological Support Unit, ICRC
- Ms. Bhargavi Davar, Convenor, TCI Asia, India
- Mr. Vincent Girard, Research & Innovation, Mental health & Exclusion, ARS PACA, France
- Dr. Roberto Mezzina, Director of the Mental Health Department, Trieste, Italy
- Mr. Michael Njenga, Africa Disability Forum, Kenya
- Ms. Kriti Sharma, Disability Rights Researcher, Human Rights Watch, USA
- Ms. Olga Runciman, Psychologist, Psycovery, Denmark
- Dr. Alberto Minoletti, Chief of Mental Health Unit, School of Public Health, University of Chile
- Mr. Peter McGovern, Psychiatrist, Akershus University Hospital, Norway (PowerPoint)
- Dr. Amalia Gamio, Independent human rights expert on the rights of persons with disabilities, Mexico
- Professor Sashi P. Sashidharan, University of Glasgow, Institute of Health and Wellbeing
Interventions from the floor
- Brazil on behalf of Foreign Policy and Global Health
- World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry
Video recording of the Consultation on Human Rights and mental health is available in the following links:Day 1 - morning: