How can caregivers advance human rights of people with psychosocial disability (mental illness)?

The two days national training workshop for caregivers of people with psychosocial disability (mental illness) is over. Both I and Bhargavi were looking forward to this very first such national training with a mix of anxiety and optimism. The outcome of the workshop exceeds our expectations.

We had a rich mix of family and professional care givers. The spirit throughout the workshop was one of cooperation, opnenness, listening to and learning from each other. Learning was based on the lived experience of the participants. The training provided an opportunity to relate those lived experiences with the spirit and letter of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, of which India is a party.

A constructive sense of humour helped participants and facilitators to address such difficult issues as force and coercion in psychiatry, grave human rights violations in the mental health care sector and the everyday problems of burning out and being stuck.

Participants also learned about alternatives to biomedical psychiatry that promote recovery from severe mental illness. We also identified potential strengths and resources that are available in India to promote the right to choose and respect for dignity. The workshop ended with concrete action planning on how participants and their civil society organisations can contribute to the proper implementation of the UN CRPD.

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