Human rights-based approaches to mental health legislation and global mental health – 2018

Globally, established practice in mental health services has tended to be codified into law in ways that are paternalistic, seeking to make decisions for patients that presume ‘best interest’ and which ultimately place power in the hands of medical authority. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – which has been widely ratified globally – challenges these assumptions, instead placing the expressed will and preference of patients as the most important factor in decision-making, including treatment and consent to admission. The contradictions between these approaches cause profound challenges in legislation reform, but a human rights framework offers the potential for a paradigm shift in the way that people are treated in services, and in exploration of alternative practices that promise a more humane and dignified future for mental health care.

Julian Eaton
BJPsych International, 02 May 2018