Sunday, September 27, 2015

Human Rights Are Mental Health

It's not just that human rights are important in mental health. They are mental health. People talk as if these are different concepts. But in practice, principle and ultimate impact, they are one and the same.
--Sarah Knutson, Organizer, Wellness Recovery Human Rights Campaign
Most people have heard about the need for mental health recovery. Very few have considered the need for ‘human rights recovery.’ Yet, they are inextricably intertwined.

While seeking much the same ends, the starting points are radically different. Mental health recovery is seen as an individual obligation: A private problem develops. The 'person of concern' is expected to address it. It is their job to make progress and stop imposing their 'stuff' on unwilling others.
Human rights recovery challenges this worldview. It argues that mental health, fundamentally, is a shared responsibility. It stems from the quality of respect and support for human rights in the community relationships that affect our lives. These relationships are the work, not just of individuals, but also of families, schools, employers, neighborhoods, organizations and governments. 

When the community-at-large fails to nurture these connections, injuries result and continue to mount. The underlying dynamics damage the quality of life, not just for individuals, but for entire community. The first person to break down merely is a harbinger of further wreckage to come.
The human rights paradigm was articulated in 1948 to steer a different course. It arose in the wake of Nazi Germany, with a global commitment to ‘never again.’
The human rights paradigm is intended not only for nations, but for everyone, everywhere. It represents the consensus of people worldwide as to what human beings need in order to live and be well. It helps to us understand who we are - and how we need to treat each other. It shows us how to recover our humanity as individuals, families, neighbors, co-workers and communities who affect each other deeply. It supports us to build relationships that foster health and wellbeing - instead of distress and disability - for all of us. Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

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