“Because mental health is a universal human right, we all have the right to access quality treatment that meets our needs and respects our rights across our lifetimes.” — World Health Organization
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, as recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), is that mental health is a universal human right.
The WHO also emphasizes that “all over the world people with mental health conditions continue to experience a wide range of human rights violations” or must sacrifice their human rights to receive treatment.
In Ontario, our Human Rights Code and other laws related to consent, capacity and privacy seek to protect the human rights of people with mental health issues. That has not always been the case: there are egregious examples of human rights violations against people with mental health problems in our past, particularly affecting people who are marginalized. This underlines the importance of the WHO position and remind us that the protection of the rights of people with mental illness cannot be taken for granted.
At GH-CCMH, we are working hard to take a more people-centred approach. People-centred care is, by definition, an approach that engages people who use mental health services in designing the system of care and making decisions about their own treatment. It is an approach that sees service users, families, and communities as active participants in care rather than as passive recipients of care. And it is an approach that protects human rights because it ensures that those who use systems of care have a say in how they work.
The choice to be more people-centred is having an impact here at GH-CCMH. That choice is driving new ways of planning services with active engagement with client informant groups and generates system-building collaborations with community. (See our 2022-23 Annual Report for more details).
This World Mental Health Day, and every other day of the year, we commit to ensuring that the human rights of our clients, families and caregivers are respected and that the services they receive are safe, effective and people-centred.