Human rights and mental health

Publication Date01 Sep 2003
AuthorBrian Williams
SubjectHealth & social care,Sociology
The Journal of Adult Protection Volume 5 Issue 3 • September 2003 © Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Limited 47
There is a wealth of material on the links between mental
health and human rights issues on the web. The huge and
rather daunting Department of Health website has an easily
accessible, dedicated section with direct links to publications,
statistics, training providers and research. There is an
interesting section on the relationship between the Human
Rights Act and specific social care issues, with brief case
studies summarising legal cases brought under the Act. There
is also a link to the information service on Human Rights run
by the newly established NHS Litigation Authority, a
potentially useful resource for professionals in this area.
The Scottish area of the British Association of Social
Workers has some information on mental health and the law
on its website, including a briefing on the current consultation
on the mental health law research programme. This allows
respondents to express their views about what research should
be undertaken in the coming years. Follow the link to BASW
The World Health Organisation has set up a division that
provides technical assistance and support to countries
introducing and implementing mental health laws, and there
is a strong emphasis in the documentation upon safeguarding
the rights of the individual.
The human rights group Liberty has a section of its website
devoted to the rights of people with mental health problems.
This is currently preoccupied with the new legislation and the
danger that it will create injustice by incarcerating people with
the ill-defined diagnosis of ‘dangerous severe personality
disorder’. It has a number of useful links to the sites of other
campaigning organisations, along with an advice service and
resources, including several reports, press releases and other
documents which can be downloaded free of charge. Its own
related pages include those on the subjects of ‘equality’ and
‘asylum and immigration’.
There is an interesting history of the issues around mental
health and human rights by one of the staff of the South
African NGO, the Centre for the Study of Violence and
Reconciliation. He argues that respect for the rights of people
with mental health problems is an indicator of a healthy
society and draws upon the international history of the issue
to argue for reforms in South Africa. The site that hosts this
Human rights and
mental health
Useful websites

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