All over Europe, a large number of persons with mental health issues or psychosocial disabilities are subject to coercive measures such as involuntary placement and treatment. This practices are part of a culture of confinement that considers people with mental condition “dangerous” to themselves or others and use this argument to justify coercion to «treat» them or «help» them despite the lack of empirical evidence that support it.
On the other hand, people with mental health issues who had negative experiences of coercive measures (including pain and trauma), are afraid, avoid or delay contact with the health care system. As a result, they receive worse attention and can be exposed to more crisis situations which in turn lead to more coercive measures. This is how a terrible vicious circle can be created.
That´s why Resolution 2291 from the Parliamentary Assembly assets that “Mental health systems across Europe should be reformed to adopt a human rights-based approach which is compatible with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and respectful of medical ethics and of the human rights of the persons concerned, including of their right to health care on the basis of free and informed consent”.
The Parliamentary Assembly urges Member States to:
- Create a plan with the participation of all stakeholders to reduce coercive measures
- Offer support services in crisis situation including self-harm and suicide
- Offer non coercive alternatives as community-based responses such as peer-led crisis or respite services and advance planning.
- Pay attention to prevention and early identification of mental health conditions focusing in children and young people
- Fight the stereotypes against persons with mental health conditions
- Include in the curricula of higher education institutions (specially medicine, law and social work) the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Fight the exclusion of persons with mental health conditions by ensuring that they have access to appropriate social protection, including housing and employment;
- Provide adequate social and financial support to families of persons with mental health condition to enable them to cope with the stress and pressure of supporting their loved ones.
This is a big challenge that needs of the implication of many actors. Many voices and many hands are required: families, institutions, mental health settings and of course, people with mental health condition or disabilities. For more information see the original text. Ending coercion in mental health: the need for a human rights-based approach. Resolution 2291 from the Parliamentary Assembly