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Mental Disabilities and the Human Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health

From: Human Rights Quarterly
Volume 28, Number 2, May 2006
pp. 332-356 | 10.1353/hrq.2006.0019


In the majority of countries, the right to health of persons with mental disabilities has been grossly neglected. Necessary healthcare and support services are frequently unavailable or inaccessible, while human rights abuses are often pervasive within services where they do exist. This article explores the right to health as it relates to persons with mental disabilities. It develops an analytical framework for the right to health, derived from General Comment 14 on the right to health of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and it applies this framework in the context of mental disabilities. Despite progress in developing appropriate services, additional policy and legislative initiatives are a prerequisite for the realization of the right to health for persons with mental disabilities. A human rights approach, including participation, autonomy, dignity, inclusion, monitoring, and accountability, should guide all relevant actions.

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