The National Commission for Human Rights, in collaboration with Taskeen Health Initiative (Taskeen) and with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), launched a report on mental health and human rights. The aim of this report is to identify the gaps in mental health policy, legislation, licensing, qualification, and ethical mental health service delivery in order to highlight the human rights violations and malpractice that those with mental health issues face as a consequence.
While presenting the report findings to the audience, Chairperson NCHR RabiyaJaveri Agha highlighted the need for discourse stating, “we need to move past the stigma and taboo around the subject of mental health and talk about these issues openly and without discrimination.” She also emphasised how “limited regulation of the mental health sphere means that anyone can offer mental health counselling and treatment without accountability, which can lead to incidents of human rights abuses and exploitation of vulnerable populations. Regulation and promotion of ethical mental health services are imperative.” UNFPA Country Representative a.i. Dr. BakhtiorKadirov added to the conversation stressing the need for coordinated care delivery saying, “I would like to highlight the centrality of the mental health and psychosocial support services in GBV prevention and response programmes, considering the needs and concerns of GBV survivors”
According to Taskeen CEO Mr. Irfan Mustafa, “with the growing burden of mental illnesses, demand for mental health services is increasing. This creates a space for unqualified professionals to take advantage of vulnerable patients, compromising their human rights. It is the need of the hour to enact policies to regulate mental health services to ensure that only qualified mental health professionals are providing support to patients of mental illness.”
Chairperson NCHR RabiyaJaveri Agha also announced the formulation of a draft Mental Health Bill, which would serve to update the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001 in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and serve as a model for updating the provincial mental health Acts. “It is time for Pakistan to realise that invisible disabilities, such as mental health, are one the most neglected yet essential issues for development and human rights in the country”, she said.