Human rights and the use of psychiatric medication

Lourdes Rodriguez del Barrio (Professor, based at Social Work Department, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada)
Rosana Onocko Campos (Department of Public Health, University of Campina, Campinas, Brazil)
Sabrina Stefanello (Hospital of Ouro Verde, Campinas, Brazil; Department of Public Health, University of Campina, Campinas, Brazil and Health Service, Campinas, Brazil)
Deivisson Vianna Dantas dos Santos (Psychiatrist, based at Department of Public Health, University of Campina, Campinas, Brazil and Hospital of Ouro Verde, Campinas, Brazil)
Céline Cyr (International Community-University Research Alliance: Mental Health and Citizenship, Montreal, Canada and Social Work Department, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada)
Lisa Benisty (International Community-University Research Alliance: Mental Health and Citizenship, Montreal, Canada and Social Work Department, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada)
Thais de Carvalho Otanari (International Community-University Research Alliance: Mental Health and Citizenship, Campinas, Brazil and Social Work Department, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Publication date: 9 December 2014

Abstract

Purpose

Formal recognition of the human rights of people living with mental health problems has greatly progressed. We must ask ourselves, however, to what extent the formal recognition of these rights has transformed the culture of psychiatric care and improved their quality of life. Gaining Autonomy & Medication Management (GAM) is an approach that strives to empower service users and providers and promotes the exercise of users’ rights by transforming their relationship with the central component of psychiatric treatment in community services: psychopharmacology. The purpose of this paper is to show how GAM highlights the issues surrounding the establishment of a culture of rights.

Design/methodology/approach

For this analysis qualitative data were collected in Brazil and in Quebec, Canada, through over 100 interviews done with people living with mental health issues and practitioners who participated in the different GAM implementation projects.

Findings

Issues, challenges and obstacles facing the instauration of a human rights culture in mental health services are presented. The profound changes that the understanding and exercise of users’ rights bring to the lives of individuals are supported by excerpts illustrating recurring issues, situations and common experiences that appear in the various contexts of the two different countries.

Research limitations/implications

This is not a parallel study taking place into two countries. The methodologies used were different, and as a consequence the comparative power can be limited. However, the results reveal striking similarities.

Originality/value

There is scant research on human rights in mental health services in the community, and the issues surrounding the prescribing and follow-up of pharmacological treatment. The joint analysis of the researches in Brazil and in Canada, identified common challenges which are intertwined with the dominant approach of biomedical psychiatry.

Keywords

Citation

Rodriguez del Barrio, L., Onocko Campos, R., Stefanello, S., Vianna Dantas dos Santos, D., Cyr, C., Benisty, L. and de Carvalho Otanari, T. (2014), "Human rights and the use of psychiatric medication", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 179-188. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-06-2013-0039

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Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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