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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 8-14

A legal "right" to mental health care? Impediments to a global vision of mental health care access

1 Faculty of Humanities, School of Law, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
2 Programme of Bio and Research Ethics and Medical Law, School of Nursing and Public Health, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
N Glover-Thomas
School of Law, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1119-3077.170822

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Mental health law across many jurisdictions provides a legal framework for the compulsory detention and, where appropriate, treatment in hospital of people with mental health problems. Latent within many of these "systems" of mental health provision is the concern that the quality of care people receive does not always meet legal and ethical norms. For many, there remains the very serious recognition that access to mental health care in its entirety remains elusive. International human rights discourse has influenced the shaping of modern mental health laws in many developed countries. In 2008, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) entered into force. For many countries, such as South Africa, the CRPD provides a human rights instrument with the scope to establish a worldwide means of bolstering human rights. This paper examines both the UK and the broader African position with regard to the extent redress can be sought if and when an individual does not receive the care and treatment needed. Within this, consideration will be given to one of the paradoxes of mental health care which bedevil mental health systems: How do legal frameworks for detaining and treating people without their consent work when there is no corresponding enforceable right that appropriate treatment or suitable conditions of detention must be provided. The focus of this paper is the question of whether there is indeed a legal "right" to mental health care.

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