Recently, courtesy of Monica on Twitter, I’ve come across a United Nations document. It’s a report on torture or cruel, degrading treatment in healthcare settings. You can see it here. It runs to 23 pages.
Here are some quotes:
“…the discriminatory character of forced psychiatric interventions, when committed against persons with psychosocial disabilities, satisfies both intent and purpose required under the article 1 of the Convention against Torture, notwithstanding claims of ‘good intentions’ by medical professionals…”(p. 7)
The Special Rapporteur calls upon all States to:
“(c) Replace forced treatment and commitment by services in the community. Such services must meet needs expressed by persons with disabilities and respect the autonomy, choices, dignity and privacy of the person concerned, with an emphasis on alternatives to the medical model of mental health, including peer support, awareness-raising and training of mental health-care and law enforcement personnel and others;
“(d) Revise the legal provisions that allow detention on mental health grounds or in mental health facilities, and any coercive interventions or treatments in the mental health setting without the free and informed consent by the person concerned. Legislation authorizing the institutionalization of persons with disabilities on the grounds of their disability without their free and informed consent must be abolished.”(p. 23)
But don’t get too excited. Elsewhere the report seems to OK involuntary detention when a person has been found to be “dangerous to self or others.” Also, countries don’t always follow UN recommendations.
What I found most interesting, however, was the call for “…alternatives to the medical model of mental health…” This is definitely a far cry from “depression-is-an-illness; take-your-pills,” and I’m surprised that it would find its way into a list of UN recommendations. It’s just a few years since we “mental illness deniers” were viewed as a bunch of cranks. Is the UN coming on board?