This post is addressed especially to mental health professionals and researchers, including psychiatrists, social workers, therapists, and also to lawyers and law professors.
If you have spoken against coercive practices, if you are critical of the medical model and are willing to envision with us a world where support and services *never* mean paternalism or coercion, your voice is needed for two reasons. First, to counter the backlash the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has faced from organized psychiatry (for example here and here) and its apologists in the legal field (sorry but I can’t bring myself to search further through the muck). And second, to bring your knowledge and skills to the work of transformation to bring this new world into being.
The existence of the CRPD and its jurisprudence establishing the absolute prohibition of commitment and forced treatment, along with that of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (all linked in the Call to Action), by creating a new legal norm and obligation on governments, creates space for these positions to be sayable in the mainstream, and for the work to take place.
Also significant, though I had not thought of including it in the Campaign materials earlier, is a statement of two UN Special Rapporteurs, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities and the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, entitled: “Dignity must prevail” – An appeal to do away with non-consensual psychiatric treatment World Mental Health Day – Saturday 10 October 2015. They said:
Dignity cannot be compatible with practices of force treatment which may amount to torture. States must halt this situation as a matter of urgency and respect each person’s autonomy, including their right to choose or refuse treatment and care.
Without freedom from violence and abuse, autonomy and self-determination, inclusion in the community and participation in decision-making, the inherent dignity of the person becomes an empty concept. The international community needs to acknowledge the extent of these violations, which are broadly accepted and justified in the name of psychiatry as a medical practice.
The concept of ‘medical necessity’ behind non-consensual placement and treatment falls short of scientific evidence and sound criteria. The legacy of the use of force in psychiatry is against the principle ‘primum non nocere’ (first do no harm) and should no more be accepted.
Please join survivors and allies who are speaking out as human rights defenders, to defend and strengthen the work of the UN mechanisms that are promoting and protecting the right to be free from all forms of commitment and forced treatment.