Wednesday, October 7, 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, these concepts are one and the same.
Sarah Knutson, Organizer, Wellness & Recovery Human Rights Campaign. 

Most people have heard about the need for mental health recovery. Yet, very few have considered the need for ‘human rights recovery.’ In truth, you can't separate them.

All too often, wellness and recovery are seen as individual matters: 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.

The human rights paradigm challenges this idea. It argues that mental health, fundamentally, is a shared responsibility. When respect for human rights is lacking, people don't have what they need to feel or live well. We treat each other poorly and relationships suffer. The resulting dynamics damage the quality of life for everyone. 

In these circumstances, the first person to break down is not weak. They are a warning to the rest of us. 'Pay attention! Something isn't working. Fix it before more people get hurt!'

The human rights paradigm was articulated in 1948 to steer us on a better course. It arose in the wake of Nazi Germany, with a global commitment to ‘never again.’ Everyone recognized that this was a tall order. If we wanted world peace, we would need to change how we were treating each other. We would have to learn how to relate in ways that led to well being, good will and collaboration - instead of exclusion, distress and retaliation. 

The human rights paradigm is not just for nations. - It's for all of us. People from around the world got together and agreed: There are just some things that human beings do not do well without!
What they wrote became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,  (UDHR).   Here is a summary of what they said: 
As human beings we have a lot of things in common. We all long for respect and dignity. We all want to belong and be seen as valued members of the human family. We all are capable of developing our reason and conscience. We all need safety and security - and not just on a material level: Our mental, moral, vocational, creative, social, and political needs also require protection. 
The UDHR is a recipe - not just for world peace - but for mental and behavioral health. Without these things, there is no wellness or well being. There also is no support for recovery - or any reason to work at it. 

In other words:
Human rights = mental health. 
No rights, no recovery. 
Well-being leads to well beings.

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