Report on the right of everyone to mental health

18 March 2017
Special Rapporteur on the right to health
At the Human Rights Council’s 35th session (6-23 June 2017)


In this ground-breaking report, the Special Rapporteur questions the status quo in the current psychiatry that has led to the mistrust of many users, to their disempowerment and stigmatization. He calls for a shift in the paradigm, based on the recurrence of human rights violations in mental health settings, all too often affecting persons with intellectual, cognitive and psychosocial disabilities.

He addresses the “global burden of obstacles" that has maintained this status quo, namely:

  • i) the dominance of the biomedical paradigm;
  • ii) power asymmetries which impact all levels of the decision-making in mental health policies and services, and
  • iii) the biased use of evidence in mental health.

The Special Rapporteur elaborates on the right of everyone to mental health and some of the core challenges and opportunities. He urges that the promotion of mental health be addressed for all ages in all settings.

The Special Rapporteur also calls for leadership to confront the global burden of obstacles and embed rights-based mental health innovation in public policy. That includes State champions in international policy efforts, the leadership of professional psychiatry in assessing constructively its approach to the necessity for change, managers of mental health services leading change by example, and municipal officials championing grassroots innovation. These champions must work in partnership with their constituents, including persons with intellectual, cognitive and psychosocial disabilities.

More on the right to mental health