Structural factors such as poverty, inequality, homelessness, and discrimination contribute to risk for mental disability and impact negatively on the course and outcome of such disabilities. A human rights approach to mental disability means affirming the full personhood of those with mental disabilities by respecting their inherent dignity, their individual autonomy and independence, and their freedom to make their own choices.
~ Jonathan Kenneth Burns
Thank you, Jonathan Kenneth Burns, for writing “Mental health and inequity: A human rights approach to inequality, discrimination, and mental disability,” an excellent journal article published in Health and Human Rights. Jonathan Kenneth Burns, MBChB, MSc, FCPsych, is Senior Lecturer and Chief Specialist Psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
What he has to say is well worth reading. Check out his whole journal article.
Mental disability and mental health care have been neglected in the discourse around health, human rights, and equality. This is perplexing as mental disabilities are pervasive, affecting approximately 8% of the world’s population. Furthermore, the experience of persons with mental disability is one characterized by multiple interlinked levels of inequality and discrimination within society. Efforts directed toward achieving formal equality should not stand alone without similar efforts to achieve substantive equality for persons with mental disabilities. Structural factors such as poverty, inequality, homelessness, and discrimination contribute to risk for mental disability and impact negatively on the course and outcome of such disabilities. A human rights approach to mental disability means affirming the full personhood of those with mental disabilities by respecting their inherent dignity, their individual autonomy and independence, and their freedom to make their own choices. A rights-based approach requires us to examine and transform the language, terminology, and models of mental disability that have previously prevailed, especially within health discourse. Such an approach also requires us to examine the multiple ways in which inequality and discrimination characterize the lives of persons with mental disabilities and to formulate a response based on a human rights framework. In this article, I examine issues of terminology, models of understanding mental disability, and the implications of international treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for our response to the inequalities and discrimination that exist within society — both within and outside the health care system. Finally, while acknowledging that health care professionals have a role to play as advocates for equality, non-discrimination, and justice, I argue that it is persons with mental disabilities themselves who have the right to exercise agency in their own lives and who, consequently, should be at the center of advocacy movements and the setting of the advocacy agenda.
[…] but we educate each other and the public about mental health issues and work to overcome social stigma attached to mental […]
Without a doubt.
So true. But we need to ensure docs exercise due diligence too.
Without a doubt. Fine line to tread. Difficult when mental illness interferes with ability to think clearly and poses threat to self or others or results in grave disability where cannot care for oneself.
Mental Health rights is such a complex area.
Now I get to go visit your blog and tweet it! I love promoting great content, especially stories that need to be told and be listened to. Thank you for sharing it.
you are such a great mental health activist! I’m so glad I found you.
I took your advice…and posted my comment..with a little tweeking.
I wish I had known about the Blog Activist day sooner…but then it was kind of nice to just throw myself into this! A lot of people don’t know that story about me.
not that I keep it from people…but it’s not something that comes up. 🙂
Thank you for the encouragement to share it.
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