World Mental Health Day (10 October 2015): Dignity and Mental Health

Today is World Mental Health Day. The theme this year is dignity and mental health.

Background information:

Dignity: It refers to an individual’s inherent value and worth and is strongly linked to respect, recognition, self-worth and the possibility to make choices. Being able to live a life with dignity stems from the respect of basic human rights including:

  • freedom from violence and abuse;
  • freedom from discrimination;
  • autonomy and self-determination;
  • inclusion in community life; and
  • participation in policy-making

Key Messages:

The dignity of many people with mental health problems is not respected:

  • Often, they are locked up in institutions
  • Many are subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect
  • They are often deprived of the right to make decisions for themselves
  • They are denied access to general and mental health care
  • They are prevented from fully participating in society
  • They are often deprived of access to education and employment opportunities

How can we promote the rights and dignity of people with mental health conditions?

In the health care system

  • Provide community-based services, encompassing a recovery approach;
  • Respect people’s autonomy, including their right to make their own decisions about their treatment and care; and
  • Ensure access to good quality care that promotes human rights, is responsive to people’s needs, and respects their values, choices and preferences.

In the community

  • Support people with mental health conditions to participate in community life and acknowledge the value of their contribution.
  • Respect their autonomy to make decisions for themselves, including about their living arrangements and personal and financial matters;
  • Ensure their access to employment, education, housing, social support and other opportunities; and
  • Include people in decision-making processes on issues affecting them, including policy, legislation and health service reform relating to mental health.

Useful Links:

Link to the WHO World Mental Health Day 2015 web page:

Link to the World Mental Health Day 2015 information sheet(web page):

Link to the World Mental Health Day 2015 information sheet(PDF):

Link to the Comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2020 web page of WHO:


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