Mental health is a human rights issue
In 2003, Amnesty International Ireland began its campaign on mental health in Ireland with a series of reports, Mental Illness: The Neglected Quarter. These reports outlined concerns at the treatment in Ireland of people with mental health problems, and measures them against international human rights standards. Our campaign had two objectives: to raise political and public awareness that mental health is a neglected human rights issue; and to get a new government mental health policy that was human rights based and cross-departmental.
In 2006, the Irish Government committed itself to a new blueprint for mental health, A Vision for Change. It promised reform of mental health in Ireland and a person centred approach. We called for Government action to implement this policy and to address the chronic under-funding in mental health in order for reforms to happen. We published a policy briefing that set out a blueprint for how A Vision for Change should be implemented. We also co-founded the Irish Mental Health Coalition, which later became Mental Health Reform.
Between late 2008 until June 2013 we stepped up our campaigning work on mental health and human rights. We used the human rights framework to demand action from the Government. We sought a social approach in response to mental health that is focused on people’s rights, in particular the right to live a full life in the community and the right to choice in treatment.