Human Rights for Individuals with Mental Health Disabilities

This article discussed key human rights points that are not essentially practiced throughout the world. Lawrence Gostin states that liberty, dignity, equality, and entitlement are those points which the World Health Organization are working on further for others to accept as human rights norms for individuals with mental health disabilities. The review will provide examples of the violation of human rights some persons with mental disabilities are exposed to. The group WHO put in place legal precedent and public pressure; created by this body of international law they have encouraged domestic governments to apply human rights principles to their policies affecting mentally disabled individuals at the national and sub-national level.

Human Rights for Individuals with Mental Health Disabilities The overlooked and unspoken of disability of mental illness has been brought to the forefront with this article Lawrence Gostin has written. International Human Rights Law and Mental Disability provided great detail of how these individuals are seen, portrayed, and handled out in society.

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In our society mental illness is seen as instability and people continually turn their noses up in disgust when dealing with persons with such diagnosis. Many human rights are taken away from these people and can lead to some negative experiences. “The mentally disabled have ended up in prison, in equally deplorable adult homes, or on the streets, homeless and destitute,” says Gostin explaining the disregard for this demographic. As he describes this neglect I relate it to the same mistreatment to the individuals that called Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, New York, home from the 1930’s until 1987.

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This facility’s was planned out for mentally disabled children, after ping-ponging ideas of its patient focused goal from U.S Army hospital to Veteran services, Willowbrook held to its original plan. While beginning seemingly well this insane asylum took a turn for the worst and began experiencing hepatitis outbreaks, extreme overcrowding, unsanitary living conditions, and malnutrition. In 1987 after much controversy the hospital closed down. This facility was a clear example of the violation of human
rights and how the mentally disabled are treated not only in society but also the neglect seen in some health care organizations. The World Health Organization, European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) are working together to change that negative connotation. These groups wish to provide all disabled people their “four interrelated human rights: liberty, dignity, equality, and entitlement.” With these values individuals can ultimately work there in a normal environment instead of being pushed into dark insane asylums. The major initiative now is to engage society as a whole in strive for public mental health. The movement of public mental health reaches to involve population based services, screenings for mental illness, and education on the topic of mental health. History shows society, government included has not treated the mentally disabled population very well, and these measures are a step closer to erasing those discrimination and prejudice lines.

Gostin, Lawrence O. (March-April 2004). The Hastings Center Report: International Human Rights Law and Mental Disability, 34.2, 11-12. Fisher, Danny (Producer), & Fisher, Jack (Director). (14 February 1997) Unforgotten: Twenty-Five Years After Willowbrook [Motion Picture]. United States of America: Willowbrook State School, Staten Island, New York City, New York.

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Human Rights for Individuals with Mental Health Disabilities. (2016, Mar 31). Retrieved from

Human Rights for Individuals with Mental Health Disabilities

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