Establishing Good Practice for Human Rights-Based Approaches to Mental Health Care and Psychosocial Support in Kenya

Faraaz Mahomed, Jacqueline Bhabha, Michael Ashley Stein, and Dainius Pūras Abstract A human rights-based approach (HRBA) to health has long been seen as an important way in which to address public health needs in a manner that is equitable and conducive to social justice. Yet the actual content of an HRBA to health remains unspecific, and therefore implementation remains heterogeneous. This situation is even more challenging in the field of…

A Health-Based Case against Canadian Arms Transfers to Saudi Arabia

Rhonda Ferguson and Zarlasht Jamal Abstract Under the Arms Trade Treaty, state parties must assess the extent to which the export of conventional arms might contribute to, inter alia, serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. The stated aims of Canada’s arms export licensing decision-making process are, similarly, to assess such risks on a case-by-case basis. This paper examines Canada’s ongoing arms transfer arrangements with Saudi Arabia in…

Police Discrimination, Misconduct, and Stigmatization of Female Sex Workers in Kenya: Associations with Delayed and Avoided Health Care Utilization and Lower Consistent Condom Use

David Kuria Mbote, Laura Nyblade, Caroline Kemunto, Kayla Giger, Joshua Kimani, Pia Mingkwan, Stella Njuguna, Emmanuel Oga, and John D. Kraemer Abstract Discrimination and violence against sex workers by police are common in many populations and is associated with negative health outcomes, as well as being per se violations of human rights laws and norms. There is a close and mutually reinforcing nexus between legally actionable rights violations and stigma,…

Arctic Suicide, Social Medicine, and the Purview of Care in Global Mental Health

Lucas Trout and Lisa Wexler Abstract Youth suicide is a significant health disparity in circumpolar indigenous communities, with devastating impacts on individual, family, and community levels. This study draws on structured interviews and ethnographic work with health professionals in the Alaskan Arctic to examine the meanings assigned to Alaska Native youth suicide, as well as the health systems that shape clinicians’ practices of care. By defining suicide as psychogenic on…

The Great March of Return: Lessons from Gaza on Mass Resistance and Mental Health

Bram Wispelwey and Yasser Abu Jamei Abstract The Gaza Strip is under an Israeli land, sea, and air blockade that is exacerbated by Egyptian restrictions and imposes an enormous cost in terms of human suffering. The effects of blockade, poverty, and frequent attacks suffered by the population have taken a significant toll on people’s mental health. The Great March of Return, a mass resistance movement begun in March 2018, initially…

Reconceptualizing Psychosis: The Hearing Voices Movement and Social Approaches to Health

Rory Neirin Higgs Abstract The Hearing Voices Movement is an international grassroots movement that aims to shift public and professional attitudes toward experiences—such as hearing voices and seeing visions—that are generally associated with psychosis. The Hearing Voices Movement identifies these experiences as having personal, relational, and cultural significance. Incorporating this perspective into mental health practice and policy has the potential to foster greater understanding and respect for consumers/survivors diagnosed with…

The Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: More Than Just Another Reform of Psychiatry

Jasna Russo and Stephanie Wooley Abstract The social model of disability—which is grounded in the lived realities of disabled people, as well as their activism, research, and theoretical work—has enabled a historic turn in the understanding of disability. This model also facilitates the transition to the rights-based approach that is at the core of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). However, the social model…

BOOK REVIEW: Why Prosecution Is Not the Go-To Tool to Secure Human Rights

Marge Berer Beyond Virtue and Vice: Rethinking Human Rights and Criminal Law, edited by Alice M. Miller and Mindy Jane Roseman, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019. This multi-authored book, edited by Alice M. Miller and Mindy Jane Roseman, raises questions about when and why human rights defenders promoting sexuality, reproductive, and gender-based rights as human rights are increasingly calling for the use of criminal law as an enforcement mechanism Its…

Mental Health as a Basic Human Right and the Interference of Commercialized Science

Lisa Cosgrove and Allen F. Shaughnessy Abstract Although there is consensus that a rights-based approach to mental health is needed, there is disagreement about how best to conceptualize and execute it. The dominance of the medical model and industry’s influence on psychiatry has led to an over-emphasis on intra-individual solutions, namely increasing individuals’ access to biomedical treatments, with a resultant under-appreciation for the social and psychosocial determinants of health and…

Addressing the Problem of Severe Underinvestment in Mental Health and Well-Being from a Human Rights Perspective

Faraaz Mahomed Abstract Throughout the world, mental health remains a neglected priority, low on the agenda of policy makers and funders at the national and international levels. While this is shifting somewhat, there remains a considerable need to address the underprioritization of mental health and well-being, perhaps even more so in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, given the history of mental health interventions—which have overemphasized the biomedical model…