COVID-19 and mental health

May 15, 2020

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On 14 May 2020, the Health and Human Rights Journal published a short article by Dainius Pūras, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health on the mental health implications of COVID-19. In it, he calls for a major transformation and paradigm shift in mental health. He argues that the current public health crisis offers an opportunity for such a transformation, for which the following is imperative:”Firstly, governments must prioritize and increase investment in mental health and acknowledge it is a part of universal health coverage. But it is not enough just to invest more in the same mental health services. Presently, mental health policies and services are too reliant on over-medicalization, institutionalization, and coercion. The World Health Organization focus on the “global burden of mental disorders” and reducing the treatment gap has sidelined a human rights-based approach to mental health, and has lead to further medicalization, reinforcing the vicious cycle of helplessness, social exclusion, and discrimination.

An alternative approach that focuses on the global burden of obstacles to the realization of the right to mental health needs to be adopted. These obstacles include the huge power asymmetries between providers and users of mental health services, the overuse of biomedical interventions, and a biased use of knowledge when research is translated into practice.”

Read the full statement here