“A hidden human rights emergency”

The World Health Organization identified discrimination against people with mental illness, and disparities in access to health care, human services and housing, as “a hidden human rights emergency.” There has been a decline in public and private spending for behavioral health treatment, a lack of new drugs in development, and an insufficient supply of knowledgeable front-line medical professionals prepared to identify, diagnose and treat those affected.  In the majority of countries, including developed ones, there has not been parity of care for mental and physical illnesses.

While the adjustments to health care introduced in January 2014, meant progress for those below the poverty line with minimal assets, and those of means, who can afford high end health coverage (along with the co-payments required to maintain prescription drug treatment without depleting their retirement funds), it did little to help the majority of individuals, who fall within the middle class and do not have the resources to access the most basic treatment.  These individuals are at great risk for losing it all.

Policy makers and the general public are NOT fully aware

  • mental disorders are common
  • mental disorders cause a large amount of burden
  • effective treatment of most mental disorders is possible
  • the image of mental illness is incorrectly associated with images of violence and laziness, rather than with suffering, marginalization and denial of basic rights.

The media reinforces stereotypes and damages public perception.
Stigma gains strength from society’s misconceptions and reinforces them.

The fear of stigma precludes individuals from seeking treatment.

According to PyschCentral,

“Workers would rather say they committed a petty crime and spent time in jail, than disclose that they stayed at a psychiatric hospital.”

Comprehensive advocacy and education are necessary…

to ensure a society, which is well-informed, and knowledgeable enough to challenge the misguided stereotypes and stigma that augment the pain of a mental impairment.

People who experience a mental illness are more likely to live in poverty, be unemployed, lose their homes, and become incarcerated.  The burden of mental disorders continues to grow, imposing significant impacts on health and major social, human rights and economic consequences in all countries of the world.

The movement to integrate mental-health screening, diagnosis and treatment in primary care settings holds promise for…

  • promoting wellness
  • preventing mental illnesses
  • intervening early with effective treatment
  • addressing multiple health conditions, which affect individuals

Key facts to reinforce

  • There are many different mental disorders, with different presentations. They are generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behavior and relationships with others.
  • Mental disorders include: depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, dementia, intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders including autism.
  • There are effective strategies for preventing mental disorders such as depression.
  • There are effective treatments for mental disorders and ways to alleviate the suffering caused by them.
  • Access to health care and social services capable of providing treatment and social support is key.

Mental disorders impact hundreds of millions of people (and their families) in every part of the world.

  • One in four people will be affected by a mental disorder at some point in their lives.
  • Depression is the single largest contributor to worldwide disability.
  • Schizophrenia & bipolar disorder are among the most severe & disabling disorders.
  • Suicide is one of the most tragic outcomes for people affected by mental disorders.

There is safety (AND strength) in numbers. “All for one, and one for all.”

Be Counted!  Illuminate Mental Diversity at Work.
There is safety (AND strength) in numbers. “All for one, and one for all.”

Suggestions, feedback, comments, and questions welcomed at MindingDiversity@aol.com

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© October 2015


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