Physicians support international Human Rights Day by condemning Stigma of mental Illness

World physicians today marked International Human Rights day on Saturday, when the World Health Organisation has decided to focus on mental health, by calling for the eradication of discrimination associated with psychiatry and the mentally ill.

The World Medical Association expressed concern that stigma and discrimination continue to discourage people from seeking psychiatric help, aggravating their situation.

Dr Otmar Kloiber, secretary general of the WMA, said that some 450 million people in the world suffered from mental and neurological disorders or from psychological problems. Historically society had regarded patients with mental illness as a threat to those around them, rather than as a people in need of support and care.

‘We have moved on from locking people away in asylums for the best part of their lives. Today’s psychiatric therapy allows better care of patients with mental illness. But mental health problems are increasing dramatically’, said Dr Kloiber.

‘The vast majority of people with mental disorders are capable of exercising their autonomy. Despite this, they are widely viewed as lacking capability in this respect, which compounds the stigma, discrimination and human rights violations that they face.

‘It is essential to eliminate the stigma associated with having mental or emotional problems. Mental health is a fundamental part of health and there is an urgent need for all countries to develop national policies to implement mental health solutions.

‘We wish to support the valuable work being done by the World Health Organisation to reduce the suffering of people with mental disorders.