The United Nations has passed a resolution reaffirming the right of everyone to be guaranteed the full enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, without discrimination of any kind.
Promoted by Portugal and Brazil and co-sponsored by at least 61 countries, the resolution highlights the discrimination that people with mental health conditions suffer and signals a commitment to address it.
Commenting on the passing of the resolution, Professor Peter Kinderman, President of the British Psychological Society, said:
“This resolution is good news for all of us who use mental health services, and for people in developing nations in particular. If we used a ‘rights’ approach rather than an ‘disease’ approach to mental health, we would come to some very different decisions about involuntary detention, forcible treatment, the use of inappropriate diagnoses and excessive reliance on the use of medication, and even on the relationship between mental health and welfare systems.”
The resolution says the UN is deeply concerned that people using mental health services can experience widespread discrimination, stigma, prejudice, violence, social exclusion and segregation, unlawful or arbitrary institutionalisation, overmedicalisation and treatment practices that fail to respect their autonomy, will and preferences.
It expresses concern about possible violations and abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms, sometimes amounting to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
The resolution also stresses that member states should take active steps to fully integrate a human rights perspective into mental health and community services, particularly with a view to eliminating all forms of violence and discrimination within that context, and to promote the right of everyone to full inclusion and effective participation in society.