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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow The Palgrave Handbook of Sociocultural Perspectives on Global Mental Health
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Lack of Information, Awareness or Knowledge

A lack of awareness by patients and their families about rights may also hinder their implementation and enforcement. The South African Mental Health Review Boards are mandated under the aforementioned 2002 legislation to act independently and autonomously as quasi-judicial bodies to uphold the rights of persons with mental illness and learning disabilities and have certainly helped rights recognition (Lund et al. 2010). However, as Lund et al. (2010) note, they nevertheless face challenges in terms of communicating their role and functions to the public, especially in rural areas, and, despite the weight the Boards’ recommendations carry, the Executive is still able to override their decisions. These issues are not unique to LMICs, despite the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 being, as previously mentioned, largely regarded as human rights based; recent research conducted on behalf of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland found that few individuals with mental health issues know what their rights are (Griesbach and Gordon 2013).

Nor should it be forgotten that although there is increasing support for the involvement of experts by experiences (i.e., people with a lived experience of mental health issues and/or their families) in mental health policy development and implementation, which clearly impacts on the quality of mental health law and the extent to which these respect experts by experience rights (WHO 2013; Bartlett 2010), the ability to participate may be limited. A lack of state receptiveness to such user involvement may be a contributory factor here, but persons with mental health issues may be hindered by the lack of availability of early and effective access to treatment and support, wider supportive networks and the necessary training or experience to help achieve such participation (Kleintjes et al. 2010).

Reduced professional knowledge of human rights requirements also exists. As Hanlon et al. (2010) note in relation to India, Ethiopia and South Africa, there is a lack of awareness on the part of clinicians of ethical standards, informed by human rights standards, or of how to make proper assessments of the justification for involuntary treatment and accurate diagnoses of mental disorder.

 
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