Follow us
Donate
Login
Become a member

MHE releases policy brief: Human rights must be the guiding compass shaping community mental health services

“Building back better” after COVID-19 means community mental health services that are human rights compliant, available, accessible, affordable and of high quality

 

SUMMARY

 

The COVID-10 pandemic has disproportionately affected those in already vulnerable situations, including persons with psychosocial disabilities. From lack of information to inaccessible standards of mental health support, discrimination is upheld and maintained at a structural level, preventing marginalised groups from receiving adequate care.

 

Whilst deinstitutionalisation has been a key priority in reforming mental health systems, the latest report show that there is still a substantial number of persons with psychosocial disabilities living in institutions across Europe and lacking community-based services.

 

Despite some reforms, several barriers continue to persist such as the poor cooperation between social and health authorities, lack of human rights compliant and community-based services, trans-institutionalisation, and austerity. The pandemic underlines the call for a swift re-evaluation of mental health systems that rely on involuntary placement in psychiatric and social care institutions.

 

Facts on the ground show that community-based services are often a backbone of rights-based services in the light of an overreliance on biomedical interventions with an over-prescription of medication as a first – and often only response.

 

The human rights requirement for participation, often translated to co-production in mental health, often makes tailor-made solutions a success, thus posing an element of quality support.  While the normative imperative of deinstitutionalisation was clear for many years, in particular through the emergence of the UN CRPD, policy makers can now refer to a steadily growing body of guidance embedding existing practices into human rights frameworks.

 

The wide array of practices around Europe and globally demonstrates that it is possible to develop person-centred and rights-based community services that respect rights, and promote inclusion and that do not exclude, isolate, or resort to coercion.  Post COVID-19 pandemic calls of building back better demonstrate the need to fundamentally shift mental health systems and services – with human rights frameworks and existing guidance for promising practices, policymakers are well equipped to make this shift a reality.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The right to health and access to healthcare is a basic human right; nevertheless, COVID-19 has laid bare the existing inequalities.
  • The outbreak underlines the call for a swift re-evaluation of mental health systems that rely on involuntary placement in psychiatric institutions.
  • Mental Health Europe joins others by calling for emergency measures for deinstitutionalisation and to avoid re-institutionalisation, setting the issue high on the political agenda.
  • Community support and social networks showed a high level of resilience and rose to the challenge despite ever-changing measures and circumstances. The human rights imperative of participation, often translated to co-production in mental health, evidences the success of tailor-made solutions, thus posing an element of quality support.
  • The wide array of practices around Europe and on a global level demonstrate that it is possible to develop person-centred and rights-based community services that respect rights, promote inclusion and that do not resort to exclusion, isolation, or coercion. These initiatives need to be scaled up, making community mental health services the norm and not the exception.
  • Post COVID-19 pandemic calls of building back better demonstrate the need to fundamentally shift mental health systems and services towards human rights frameworks and existing guidance for promising practices, policymakers are well equipped to make this shift a reality.

Further information:

Contact

Laura Marchetti

POLICY MANAGER

For more information please contact

laura.marchetti[at]mhe-sme[dot]org

Newsletter

    Stay informed on all our work, sign up to our newsletter