Press statement from PDIP (Psychosocial Disability Inclusive Philippines)

Press Statement from Psychosocial Disability-Inclusive Philippines (PDIP)

May 8, 2017

‘Senate-approved Mental Health Bill is discriminatory’

PWD org says it violates int’l human rights standards

Reference: Janice S. Cambri, M.A. 0917 558 56 07

Psychosocial Disability-Inclusive Philippines (PDIP) on Monday expressed indignation over the passage of the “highly medicalized” Mental Health Bill recently passed by the Senate.

PDIP founder Janice Cambri said it includes provisions contravening international human rights mechanisms, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

“The bill is supposed to protect persons with psychosocial disabilities yet it is extremely ironic that it allows involuntary treatment and commitment to a mental health facility, which are considered torture and root causes of rights violations within the country and around the globe,” Cambri said.

“As signatory to the CRPD, our government has the obligation to uphold nondiscrimination on the basis of disability, the prohibition of impairment-based detention and to ensure that mental health services are based on free and informed consent of the person concerned,” she added.

On May 2, the Senate approved on third and final reading a bill creating a national mental health policy. This is despite the PDIP’s strong objection to the contentious provisions during railroaded Senate deliberations.

Psychosocial Disability-Inclusive Philippines, member of the 12 – country Transforming Communities for the Inclusion of Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities – Asia, is the pioneer and sole human rights advocacy organization established specifically  to defend the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities in the country anchored on the CRPD representing at least 3,000 Filipinos with disabilities.

In 2010, over a hundred thousand Filipinos were estimated to have psychosocial disabilities. The World Health Organization said that 1 out of 4 may suffer mental health condition in their lifetime.

Cambri explained that involuntary psychiatric treatment normally means administration of irreversible mind-altering procedures (electroshock, psychosurgery) and pharmacologic restraints which have established adverse effects and cause profound suffering. These permanent, long and/or short-term serious damages are well documented in mainstream psychiatric research and human rights organization literature.

“We invoked the CRPD which the Philippines is a State party to, cited numerous UN documents with high legal authority, shared our lived experience as survivors of psychiatry and presented initiatives in Asia that work as effective alternatives to coercion but the Senate has chosen to give more weight to medical views rather than human rights standards,” Cambri said.

“Instead of investigating these perspectives, they opted to use as justification another treaty that has not embraced the paradigm shift espoused by the CRPD.” “The Bill also says that I won’t be able to access my own medical records if my doctor says it’s harmful to me. That’s just outright discrimination,” Cambri said.

In January 2017, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report hailing the CRPD as the most advanced international human rights standards for persons with psychosocial disabilities and recommended policy shifts to end involuntary treatment and institutionalization.

The World Health Organization formally withdrew its pre-CRPD drafted Resource Book on Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation which was instrumental in the development of mental health laws allowing exceptions to informed consent.

WHO also launched its Quality Rights Initiatives and published training materials last March 2017 to transform these recommendations by the OHCHR into practical on the ground solutions.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Health on April 2017 recently called for the abandonment of the over-reliance on the reductionist biomedical interventions which he said causes more harm and undermines the right to health. He also urged States to adopt community-based psychosocial interventions as frontline treatments instead of psychotropic medications.

The counterpart bills at the House of Representatives also contain similar provisions and the group vows to continue lobbying for their removal to ensure that the Mental Health Act is genuinely human rights based. ###

*PWD = persons with disabilities