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Human Rights Watch wants to see a ban on imprisoning the mentally ill

Around the world, people with mental illness are kept chained in healthcare institutions and at home, according to a new report from the human rights organization Human Rights Watch. 60 governments are now being called upon to ban the use of chains and shackles on the mentally ill.

Hundreds of thousands of people with mental illness are kept chained by their own families or in overcrowded and unhealthy institutions in most countries, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. The lack of support and care for the mentally ill and their families makes many feel that they have no choice but to chain or lock in their relatives, reports Swedish Radio.

I report from Human Rights Watch, one of the root causes of imprisoning the mentally ill is described as ignorance of mental illness. In several countries, there are notions that the mentally ill have become possessed by evil spirits or simply lack faith. This can lead to some families in rural areas primarily seeking help from healers instead of healthcare. Shame and stigma associated with mental illness are also common.

Prohibition on imprisoning the mentally ill

Chain attachment of people with mental illness occurs today in 60 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America. 60 governments are now being called upon to ban the use of chains and shackles on the mentally ill Human Rights Watch. They also want to see measures to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and that psychiatric care should be developed and quality assured.

Women more vulnerable than men

In the world today, about 792 million people live with mental illness, according to Human Rights Watch. The most common diagnosis today is depression and affects twice as many women as men. The majority of people with mental illness, about 80 percent, live in low- and middle-income countries where access to psychiatric care may be deficient.

Acute lack of resources in psychiatric care

Despite the large number of people living with mental illness, less than two percent of the world's average health care budget goes to people with mental illness, according to the report by Human Rights Watch.

During the corona pandemic, mental illness has been raised in several contexts, but the situation for people with mental illness has also worsened according to a new report from WHO. The number of mentally ill is increasing and there is an acute shortage of resources in psychiatric care. In Indonesia, more people with mental health problems than ever before have been chained, according to AFP.

In Nigeria, Human Rights Watch has visited 28 state and private facilities where chains are used regularly on the mentally ill. According to the report by Human Rights Watch, about 100 people have been chained or locked up in Hebei Province in China. In India, thousands of people with mental illness were found chained in the state of UttarPradesh.

- It is frightening that hundreds of thousands of people in the world live chained, isolated and alone. Governments must stop sweeping the problem under the rug and take action now, says Kriti Sharma, disability rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

#BreakTheChains

In conjunction with Wold Mental Health Day on October 10, the #BreakTheChains campaign was launched by Human Rights Watch. The campaign is the result of a collaboration between human rights and anti-torture organizations as well as activists. The purpose of the campaign is for more people to take a stand for the human rights of people with mental illness to be respected in all countries.

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