Human Rights and Global Mental Health: Reducing the Use of Coercive Measures

In A. Dyer, B. Kohrt & P. J. Candilis (eds.), Global Mental Health: Ethical Principles and Best Practices. pp. 247-268 (2021)
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Abstract

The application of human right frameworks is an increasingly important part of efforts to accelerate progress in global mental health. Much of this has been driven by several influential legal and policy instruments, most notably the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the World Health Organization’s QualityRights Tool Kit and Mental Health Action Plan. Despite these significant developments, however, much more needs to be done to prevent human rights violations. This chapter focuses on a critical component of this broader challenge, which is the question of how best to regulate and reduce the use of coercive measures. The recent literature on coercion in psychiatry – which addresses involuntary commitment, seclusion, restraint, and forced medication – represents a useful resource that can help guide tractable solutions in global mental health. These issues are evaluated from the perspective of global health governance, and several general recommendations are made in order to improve monitoring and enforcement, provide guidance for domestic legislative reform, and strengthen health systems.

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Kelso Cratsley
American University

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