Mental health and human rights

Open access medical journal PLoS Medicine has a thought-provoking article on mental health, human rights and the standard of mental health care around the world.

It mentions some shocking statistics that highlight how low a priority mental health is for most countries, despite the massive burden of disability it causes.

According to the 2001 World Health Report, “some 450 million people suffer from a mental or behavioral disorder, yet only a small minority of them receive even the most basic treatment”… According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental and behavioral disorders are estimated to account for 12% of the global burden of disease, yet the mental health budgets of the majority of countries constitute less than 1% of their total health expenditures.

Various cases of poor practice are highlighted, including a shocking picture of the sanitary facilities in Larco Herrera Psychiatric Hospital in Lima.

The article goes on to suggest ways to tackle the problem, both in the health care and legal systems, and discusses integrating an approach to mental disability into a wider human rights approach.

Link to PLoS Medicine article Out of the Shadows.

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