One-third of countries bar mentally ill from voting, marriage

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On World Mind Matters Day 2016, September 5,  a global survey funded by the World Psychiatric Association (WPA),  of laws and policies in 193 United Nations (UN) member states reveals the level of discrimination faced by people with mental illness in the areas of marriage, voting rights employment and right to contract.

The survey results were included in the ‘Social Justice for People with Mental Illness’ report published in the International Review of Psychiatry in Geneva and conclude that:

  • 37 per cent of countries prohibit marriage by people with mental health problems
    • In 11 per cent of countries, mental problems can render a marriage void or can be considered grounds for annulling a marriage
  • In 36 per cent of countries, people with mental health problems are not allowed to vote
  • In nearly a quarter of countries, there are no laws preventing discrimination in the recruitment of people with mental health problems.
  • In over half of countries, there is no explicit protection in laws against dismissal/termination/suspension of employment on grounds of health reasons including mental health problems
  • 38 per cent of countries deny right to contract to persons with mental health problems
    • 42 per cent do not recognize the right of people with mental health problems to write their own will and testament

The findings have led the WPA to create a Bill of Rights for Individuals with Mental Illness which urges ALL governments to ensure 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 others. The Bill of Rights has been supported by 18 organisations.

Dinesh Bhugra, President of the World Psychiatric Association said: “It is important, that clinicians around the globe work with patients, their carers, and their families, as well as with relevant organizations representing these groups, to challenge discrimination, change laws, and ensure that these are applied equally. There is simply no explanation for continuing discrimination against individuals with mental illness, their families, and those who care for them, whether they are professional or lay carers.”

The ‘Social Justice for People with Mental Illness’ report and ‘Bill of Rights for Individuals with Mental Illness’ can be viewed at –  – PRNewswire

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