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

Saeed Farooq and colleagues argue in an article recently published in The Lancet Psychiatry that a global fund is urgently needed for the  treatment of  serious mental illness in Low Income and Middle Income Countries,  just like the fund which now exists for HIV and Malaria. They argue that ' We believe that serious mental illness stands today where HIV and AIDS were a couple of decades ago. The case for establishing a similar fund for serious mental illness is compelling in view of the sheer size of the problem, the associated human rights violations, and the need to combat stigma. We challenge countries and multilateral agencies to establish a global mental health fund to provide free treatment for serious mental illness in low-income and middle-income countries.' They provide the evidence for effective interventions which are available and can be implemented at public health level. The treatment package should include free access to essential medicines to treat psychotic disorders and an appropriate psychosocial intervention. At the very least, such a treatment package should be provided during the initial 2–3 years after the onset of psychosis. This would help to prevent substantial disability and possibly higher mortality because untreated illness during this crucial period can result in long-term disability and higher mortality in such contexts.

This article is a trip through the current mental health field of Asia in 51 recent articles about 16 Asian countries.
Mental health services, legislation and capacity building on the Asian continent are developing step by step, although great challenges remain as you can read.
Not all countries and topics are included; it’s just an attempt to give you an impression about what’s going on and how it is reported.

Countries: China, Russia, Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Fiji, Japan, Bhutan, Laos PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia, India