Human rights

The global mental health blog in2mentalhealth has compiled a list of 37 funding or grant organizations, from very small funding initiatives to big global donors. If interested, please check out the in2mentalhealth list here: http://in2mentalhealth.com/2012/10/25/fundraising-options-in-global-mental-health/

Department of Psychology & Department of Shariah and Law, International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), Pakistan has initiated an International Diploma on Mental Health Law and Human Rights with technical support of World Health Organization (WHO). 

The purpose of the diploma is to provide participants with information and skills to bring about change in the area of mental health law and policy by focus on Islamic legal tradition and its interaction with human rights and provisions of international human rights law including United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), in order to develop a distinct identity and role. In addition to this it also aims to develop a distinctive leaders at organization level to play a role of the change agent in order to provide adequate and best services to the individuals already suffering from mental illnesses.

In this regard the launching ceremony was organized at Faisal Masjid Campus, International Islamic University Islamabad, which was joined by Hamd Bin Nasir (Deputy Minister for Education of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), Sheikh Muhamamd Al-Marhoon (Ambassador of Oman),  Dr. Ahmed Yousif Al-Draiweesh (President IIUI), Diplomats from Islamic countries, Dr Zafar Mirza (Director of Department of Health Systems, WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean), Representative of WHO,  and organizers Dr. Tahir Khalily (Director Academics and Clinical Psychologist) and Dr. Aziz ur Rehman (Legal Advisor, President IIUI).

Interdisciplinary ventures and practical projects in all the educational fields are vital for academic and societal excellence, said Sheikh Hamd, the Chief guest. He urged for the practical implementation of the degrees and suggested that medical diplomas be offered across the Muslim world to broaden the exposure of students. KSA education and psychology expert furthered that mental health was important as the physical health.

The event was also addressed by Dr. Ahmed Yousif Al-Draiweesh who maintained that mental health is the subject which is of vital importance in this age of technology when gadgets and indoor routines have caused surge in the psychological disorders. He called upon the Muslim world universities to bring all the psychological experts on a platform and launch a well devised series of such diplomas.

Dr. Tahir Khalily explained the objectives and vision of the diploma and revealed the future plans. He thanked the diplomatic and academic fraternity for attending the event and vowed that diploma would be proved as a millstone for interdisciplinary ventures.

It is expected that the Diploma will equip students to undertake advocacy work in this area and provide them with the knowledge and skills to actively support countries to draft and amend mental health laws in line with the CRPD and other international standards

Shocking ... "research suggests that the death penalty actually targets those who have mental illnesses. People who are executed have a far higher rate of mental illness than does the general public."

Lack of mental health care and community support leaves nearly 19,000 Indonesians vulnerable to outlawed practice, finds Human Rights Watch.

Almost 40 years after Indonesia banned the practice of shackling people with mental health conditions, nearly 19,000 are still living in chains, or are locked up in institutions where they are vulnerable to abuse, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The study says that although pasung – shackling or confining people with psychosocial disabilities – was banned in 1977, enduring stigma and a chronic lack of mental health care and community support services mean its use remains widespread.

People subjected to pasung can have their ankles bound with chains or wooden stocks for hours, days, months or even years. They are often kept outside, naked and unable to wash.

Recent figures from the Indonesian government suggest that more than 57,000 people in Indonesia have endured pasung at least once, while an estimated 18,800 are currently chained or locked up.

In 2014, 1,274 cases of pasung were reported across 21 provinces and people were rescued in 93% of cases. There is, however, no data on how many of those were successfully rehabilitated and how many were later returned to their shackles.

HRW researchers spoke to one man who kept his daughter shackled for 15 years because he feared she had been bewitched and didn’t have the money to take her to a doctor.

“She became destructive, dug up other people’s crops and ate raw corn from the plant. I was ashamed and scared she’d do it again,” he said.

“First I tied her wrist and ankles together with cables but she managed to untie herself so I decided to lock her up because the neighbours were scared.”

Although he released his daughter two months after the visit from HRW, he told the group that, for a decade and a half, she had been left to defecate in her room, which was never cleaned. She was not bathed in all that time, and was neither clothed nor visited. Her only contact with the outside world, beyond the meals pushed twice daily through a hole in the wall, came when local children pelted her with stones.

“Shackling people with mental health conditions is illegal in Indonesia, yet it remains a widespread and brutal practice,” said Kriti Sharma, disability rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report.

“People spend years locked up in chains, wooden stocks, or goat sheds because families don’t know what else to do and the government doesn’t do a good job of offering humane alternatives.”

The report recognises that the government has taken action to address the practice through initiatives such as the “Indonesia free from pasung” programme, which aims to eradicate the practice by 2019. But it says progress is being stymied by the decentralised nature of the governmental system and by inadequate resources and infrastructure.

The study says that Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago country of 250 million people, has only about 800 psychiatrists and 48 mental hospitals, more than half of which are in just four of its 34 provinces.

Noting that the ministry of health’s budget is 1.5% of Indonesia’s central government expenditure for 2015, the report describes mental health spending as negligible, adding that the latest data shows nearly 90% of those who may need to access mental health services are unable to do so.

Those locked up in institutions, meanwhile, can fall prey to physical and sexual violence, or find themselves subjected to involuntary treatments such as electroshock therapy, seclusion, restraint and forced contraception.

HRW found some of the facilities were overcrowded, while personal hygiene levels in many were “atrocious”, with people “routinely forced to sleep, eat, urinate and defecate in the same place”.

The organisation also documented the use of “magical” herbs, Qur’anic recitation and electroconvulsive therapy without anaesthesia and without consent. Cases of physical and sexual violence were noted by researchers: in seven of the institutions visited, male staff were either responsible for the women’s section or were able to come and go as they pleased, raising the risk of sexual violence.

The report calls on the Indonesian government to make mental health a priority by putting an end to pasung, ordering immediate inspections of state and private institutions, and instigating regular monitoring.

Other recommendations include amending the 2014 Mental Health Act to give people with psychosocial disabilities the same rights enjoyed by their fellow citizens, training mental health workers, and developing community-based services.

Equally important, however, is listening to the voices of those affected by mental illnesses, consulting them over their treatment, and seeking their informed consent.

“The thought that someone has been living in their own excrement and urine for 15 years in a locked room, isolated and not given any care whatsoever, is just horrifying,” said Sharma. “So many people told me, ‘This is like living in hell’. It really is.”

India is currently suffering a mental health crisis. With only 43 government-run mental hospitals serving a population of 1.2 billion, resources are spread thin. What's more, mental illness is highly stigmatized in India, especially among women, who are typically committed to mental health facilities with no legal rights, receiving involuntary treatment, and sometimes without a proper diagnosis.


VICE news travels to Maharashtra to investigate what it's like to be deemed a woman with mental illness in India today.

A growing number of innovative groups have begun experimenting with a different approach in Africa and Asia: providing therapy without clinics or doctors, relying instead on mobile nurses, cheap generic drugs and community support systems. In impoverished parts of the world where psychiatry is virtually nonexistent, the experts  say, it is the only way to begin reaching the millions of people in need.

Every society struggles to care for people with mental illness. In parts of West Africa, where psychiatry is virtually unknown, the chain is often a last resort for desperate families who cannot control a loved one in the grip ofpsychosis. Religious retreats, known as prayer camps, set up makeshift psychiatric wards, usually with prayer as the only intervention.

ndia is currently suffering a mental health crisis. With only 43 government-run mental hospitals serving a population of 1.2 billion, resources are spread thin. What's more, mental illness is highly stigmatized in India, especially among women, who are typically committed to mental health facilities with no legal rights, receiving involuntary treatment, and sometimes without a proper diagnosis.

VICE News travels to Maharashtra to investigate what it’s like to be deemed a woman with mental illness in India today.

PhotoCoverage of lives of people living with mental illness and their families in China