Internet access as a right for realizing the human right to adequate mental (and other) health care [2020]

Human rights protect the conditions of a minimally decent life of which mental health is an indispensable element. Adequate care for mental health is thus recognized as part of the human right to health. However, for populations living far from urban centers, adequate in-person (mental) health care is often extremely costly and thus not provided. Digital mental health care options have become an effective alternative to in-person treatment. Benefitting from these new digital opportunities, though, requires sufficient access to the internet. Because everyone has a human right to adequate health care, and digital mental health care is now an effective option for progressively realizing this human right for people who live in remote regions, these people also have to be understood to have a right to access to the internet. This right to internet access creates duties for public authorities and the international community to create the required digital infrastructure and (where needed) to cover the costs of internet access where this is the only feasible way of delivering, or progressively realizing, the mental health care that is indispensable for having the opportunity to lead minimally decent lives.

Merten Reglitz & Abraham Rudnick
International Journal of Mental Health, 13 Feb 2020