Mental health

Denied Citizens

A man crouches inside a mental health institution
Harrie Timmermans /Global Initiative on Psychiatry
A man crouches inside a mental health institution

Mental health and human rights

People with mental disabilities are some of the most neglected people in the world. In many communities, mental disability is not considered a real medical condition, but viewed as a weakness of character or as a punishment for immoral behaviour. Even when people with mental disabilities are recognized as having a medical condition, the treatment they receive is often less than humane.

Human rights violations against people with mental disabilities occur in communities throughout the world – in mental health institutions, hospitals, and in the wider community.

WHO Photo Essay

Promoting the rights of people with mental disorders

Personal perspectives

"I was now a resident or rather an inmate of the hospital. I left my hope on the other side of the locked door."

"The hospital appeared more a prison than a place for my clinical attention. Stigmatization and discrimination were the order of my days. Destitution became my life."

"Imagine you had a son or daughter in their late teens or twenties. Little by little you realize that things are not right, in fact they are very wrong"

"In almost every village, there is a person chained up, but it is so shameful to the family that it is hidden"

"I am saddened when I hear and see how mental health services fail to understand the simple desire to work and live a normal life in the community with friends and family"

Contact information

If you would like to contribute to our efforts, please contact Dr Michelle Funk at funkm@who.int; tel: +41 22 791 3855 or Natalie Drew at drewn@who.int, tel: +41 22 791 32 06

Photo of man in cage by Eugene Richards

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