Epidemiological studies have shown a high prevalence of mental disorders in Chile. Approximately one-third (31.5%) of the population has had a lifetime psychiatric disorder, and 22.2% have had a disorder in the past 12 months. Over 60% of the total population expected to have a mental disorder do not receive treatment.
Although Chile does not have a mental health policy, the mental health vision, principles and strategies have been encapsulated in the National Mental Health Plan of 2000. The implementation of this Plan has resulted major improvements for the mental health services in Chile, including the implementation of community based services, which are progressively offering an alternative to traditional mental health care that is provided by psychiatric institutions. There has also been an increase in mental health care provided through primary health care setting, which has greatly improved access to services and treatment for the population.
A Presidential Decree for Psychiatric Hospitalization came into force in 2001, which had several positive outcomes for people with mental disorders. However the Decree does not comprehensively promote and protect rights. It fails, for example, to provide judicial protection in relation to involuntary admission and treatment in psychiatric facilities or ensure the periodic review of legal capacity/guardianship and consent to make a treatment decision. In addition no laws exist in Chile to ensure parity between mental and physical health, promote the development of community-based treatment facilities and improve access to subsidized housing, education and sheltered work.
In 2002, the Ministry of Health of Chile requested the support of WHO to disseminate the international human rights norms and standards applicable to persons with mental disorders and improve Chilean legislation on mental health and human rights.
Workshops, involving users, families, mental health professionals and lawyers and government representatives, were undertaken in an effort to raise awareness on the rights of people with mental disorders across the country. A national workshop was organized in 2002 to train on the rights of people with disabilities and in 2006 a Workshop for Mental Health Leaders was held to empower participants to advocate for the rights of people with mental disorders and lobby the Executive and Parliament.
Parallel to awareness raising activities WHO HQ and PAHO provided support in ensuring the incorporation of mental health issues into the draft legislation amending the Law for Social Integration of People with Disability and the draft Charter of the Rights and Duties of Patients. Both laws were reviewed by WHO and members of its Network of Experts, and recommendations for the inclusion and strengthening of provisions related to mental health were provided. October 2006, World Mental Health Day was used as an occasion to bring together 250 participants to have a one-day national debate on the two draft laws.
Technical support was also provided for a comprehensive review of all Chilean legislation (eg. The Chilean Constitution, Draft Anti-Discrimination legislation, Penal and Civil Codes) from the perspective of the rights of persons with mental disorders, in order to elaborate a legal basis to improve current legislation.
In July 2007, Chile's Health Commission approved the Charter of Rights and Duties of Patients containing relevant sections related to the rights of people with mental and intellectual disabilities. In May of the same year, the Law for Social Integration of People with Disability has been submitted to Parliament.
Links to NGOs
Asociación Nacional de Familiares y Amigos de Discapacitados Psíquicos (ANAFADIS).
Corporación de Beneficiarios del programa PRAIS de la Región Metropolitana.
Asociación de Padres de Niños con Epilepsia (APADENE).