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Achieving equality in mental health for all

By April Cashin-Garbutt, MA (Cantab)

“What is the most important thing in the world? The people, the people, the people.” A beautiful Maori translation given by Professor Dinesh Bhugra, of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), to sum up the work of Careif and celebrate its 10 year anniversary at a recent House of Lords reception on ‘Equality in mental health for all.’

Prof Dinesh Bhugra

Whilst resources will never be sufficient, Professor Bhugra emphasized that we need to focus on the needs of people with mental illness. His travels have shown him that the West doesn’t have all the answers and we have to learn from each other.

Discrimination against people with mental illness is a worldwide issue with 42% CRPD ratified countries denying the right to enter into a contract and 41% even denying marriage. In the words of Professor Bhugra, how is that fair?

Further shocking statistics were highlighted by Claire Perry, MP for Devizes, who reminded us that every 30 hours someone takes their own life on UK railways. 80% of suicides are in men and 20% of people survive attempted suicides on the railways with life changing injuries according to Ian Stevens, Programme Manager (Suicide Prevention), Network Rail.

Westminster

Lord Michael Wills, who sponsored the Careif and WPA reception, also highlighted the number of suicides and the number of young people self-harming, particularly those that are vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Whilst there are still great battles to be fought, Lord Wills reminded us of the courageous MPs that spoke out in 2012 about their own struggles with mental health issues in order to help tackle the stigma around the issue.

Finally, Lord Wills asked us to keep in mind that inequality is a global issue and thus a global perspective is paramount.

Bill of Rights for Persons with Mental Illness

A global approach is something the WPA hope to achieve through the Bill of Rights for Persons with Mental Illness, which they are urging all governments to take note of and to make sure that persons with mental illness/mental disability/mental health problems are not discriminated against based on their mental health status, and are treated as full citizens enjoying all rights on an equal basis with other citizens.

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