Letter to Governor by Courtenay Barnett — Turks and Caicos

Excerpts from letter by Courtenay Barnett, lawyer, Turks & Caicos Islands to Governor Peter Beckingham. Mr. Barnett has been strongly advocating for the rights of persons on the islands including those with mental health conditions. Please contact info@mentalhealthworldwide.com if you would like a copy of the complete letter. 
6th September 2016
His Excellency Peter Beckingham
Governor of the Turks and Caicos lslands
Governor’s Office
Grand Turk
Your Excellency,
Re: Ode to Governor Peter Beckingham
Concerning:
a) Her Majesty’s Government’s responsibility for the finances and development of the Turks and Caicos lslands;
b) Your Excetlency’s need effectively to address the questions raised relative to crime in the Turks and Caicos lslands;
c) Your Excellency’s need to address the Constitutional issues surrounding the
appointment of Robert Shuster as a judge of the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos
lslands; and
d) Her Maiestr/s Government’s overall responsibilities to the Turks and Caicos lslands.

This is now my farewell message to Your Excellency.
ln reflecting on Your Excellency’s tenure in the Turks and Caicos lslands, there are two characteristics which have struck me.
First, Your Excellency’s consistent failure to do anything of significance, to the good of the Turks and Caicos lslands; and
Next, Your Excellency’s resolute determination not to make any forthright decisions.
ln a certain sense, perhaps these might both be viewed as the same.
On the other hand, here I am, struggling, defending people’s rights (see
http://www.theweek.co.uk/27}99/trouble-paradise). ….

Her Majesty’s Government’s overall responsibilities to the Turks and Caicos lslands.
This all takes me to where I started and the half has never been told
Your Excellency even went as far as signing an Executive Order designating Her Majesty’s Prison as an appropriate place to put the mentally ill ( i.e. to save public expenditures from the UK) even when the antiquated Lunatics Ordinance here stipulated that such persons must under TCI law be sent to mental institutions overseas for proper care. This is totally shameless and without any respect for the European Convention on Human Rights to which the TCI is subject under British jurisdiction.  ….. 
Respectfully,
Courtenay Francis Raymond Barnett – Attorney-At-Law
cc. Concerned International organisations.

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Calling on President John D Mahama to uphold MH Act and UN CRPD ratification — Ghana

The Accra Psychiatric Hospital in Ghana has been the site of many, many human rights violations reports. Yet there has been little change. Now there is talk of building a brand new psychiatric hospital?!! This indicates a lack of recognition from the Ghana government regarding the consultations with Mental Health agencies and regarding the Mental Health Act outlining the need for COMMUNITY BASED treatment. Ghana has ratified the UN CRPD which clearly outlines providing mental health programs and policies within a human rights framework. We are calling on the President John D. Mahama, the National Democratic Congress, and all government agents to be consciously aware of the ratification of the UN CRPD, the Mental Health Act, and how it applies to mental health programs and policies. LET ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

From our member, Dan Taylor, MindFreedom Ghana:

I’ve heard yesterday in the news on Joy FM that the ruling government in Ghana which party is the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in a ceremony on Tuesday evening at the Banquet Hall, State House, Accra to outdoor highlights of its manifesto which were read by President John D. Mahama stated inter alia that when given the mandate in the upcoming elections, they would build a first class modern psychiatric hospital at Pantang and relocate the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.

He went on state that two new psychiatric hospitals will also be built at Kumasi and Tamale with a commitment to support mental healthcare in our country.

I’m indeed intrigued by these promises made by the President which certainly makes me believe that he and for that matter his Minister of Health are not very conversant with provisions in the Mental Health Act, 2012, Act 846. I’m very sure that if they had, they would know that psychiatric units and wings have to be established at all the regional and district hospitals. These would go a long way not only to make mental healthcare accessible nationwide but also help in de-stigmatizing mental disorders and persons with mental illnesses in our communities.

The bottom line Good People, is that what the government must do now as a firm commitment to ensure mental healthcare and infrastructure are well taken care of. It is indeed very sad that the statutory funds to run mental health in Ghana has not been provided to the Mental Health Authority (MHA) since its establishment in November 2013.
Had it not been the British aid agency viz. Dept. for International Development (DFID), a VERY VERY sad story of mental health would have been heard nationwide…

As someone working with our organization, MindFreedom Ghana, whose mandate has to do with issues about mental health, the treatment, rights and dignity of persons with psychosocial disabilities I’m very conversant with the many challenges therein.
Suffice it to say that what I expect the current government to do now to demonstrate its genuine commitment mental health is to ensure that the statutory funds are released NOW to the MHA to work with.

Against the foregoing, I’ll want say loudly that “LET ACTION LOUDER THAN WORDS NOW, President Mahama!!!

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Art is the Medicine by Dawn Marie Marchand presented by REDx Talks — Canada

“Art is the Medicine” by Dawn Marie Marchand

See vimeo link https://vimeo.com/168471495 for a very powerful 15 minute video “Art is the Medicine”. Profound on many levels – Dawn Marie talks about her own suicide thoughts, using art as her treatment, mourning and also for Canada a country in mourning regarding the treatment of our First Nations people – past & present. Very powerful from a mental health and human rights perspective. Presented by REDx Talks (for more info see https://www.facebook.com/REDxTalks/)

REDx Talks is proud to present Dawn Marie Marchand, from “Art is the Medicine” in conjunction with the Rubaboo Aboriginal Arts Festival that took place on February 3rd, 2016 at La Cité Francophone in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Dawn Marie is a member of Cold Lake First Nation and a Cree and Metis Contemporary Aboriginal Artist. Dawn Marie is the first ever Indigenous Artist in Residence for the City of Edmonton.

https://vimeo.com/168471495

 

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Call for Papers – 10th Annual Bamenda Conference Disability and Rehabilitation — Cameroon

The 10th Annual Bamenda Conference on Disability and Rehabilitation
November 24 and 25, 2016
Location: TBA, Bamenda, North West Region, Cameroon
Theme: “Let’s get to know the Sustainable Development Goals; The contributions of disability and rehabilitation to achieving the SDGs”
The annual Bamenda conference on disability and rehabilitation provides an opportunity for people interested in disability, rehabilitation, and disability inclusive development issues, in the North West Region of Cameroon, Africa and the rest of the world, to come together and share experiences, ideas and recommendations. A range of dynamic and informative speakers will be presenting at this year’s conference. Ample opportunity will be provided for information sharing and professional networking over the 2 days of the conference, in both small and large groups. Call for papers and presentations. 

For more information please contact:
Emmanuel Chia (Email: emmanuelchia@ymail.com, Tel: +237670061363),
Lynn Cockburn (L.Cockburn@utoronto.ca)
Awa Jacques Chirac (Email: spd@cbchealthservices.org, Tel: +237676177732),
CUAPWD (cuapwd2008@gmail.com, Tel: +23765004064)

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Can You Hear Me Now?: Finding My Voice in a System That Stole It — Scotland

Book written by Angela McCrimmon –  “Can You Hear Me Now?: Finding My Voice in a System That Stole It”
All profits are going to mental health advocacy and she has been  Nominated for Health Champion Hero Award 2016. Angela’s writing was recognized in the Scottish parliament – thanking her for writing the book and noting that she demonstrated courage in writing it and it gave good insight into how the mental health system could and should change.
Please see link below to order your copy.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Can-You-Hear-Me-Now/dp/1945432004/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1467770323&sr=8-2&keywords=can+you+hear+me+now

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8th International Disability Law Summer School — Ireland

The 8th Annual International Disability Law Summer School is fast approaching. Many of our members have attended and highly recommend this program! See their website for more information. 

The programme for the 8th International Disability Law Summer School is now available, and is both attached to this email, and on our website.

The Summer School will run from the 20th – 24th of June, this year will address the theme of ‘Civil Society Impacting Change’. We are pleased to announce that this year the Summer School will feature a number of prominent speakers in the field of disability law.

These include former US Senator Tom Harkin, the co-father of the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the earliest pieces of disability rights legislation, and Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability.

We are very proud to announce this programme, and hope you will be able to join us. You can also join us on Facebook and Twitter, using #DSS2016 to tweet about the Summer School.
Kind regards,
Centre for Disability Law and Policy

Institute for Lifecourse and Society 

Upper Newcastle Road

National University of Ireland
Galway
Tel: +353 91 494273

SMS/Text: +353 86 008 1153

Email: disabilitysummerscho@nuigalway.ie
Web: http://www.nuigalway.ie/cdlp

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International Diploma program now accepting applications — India

Applications are now being accepted for this year’s International Diploma on Mental Health, Human Rights and Law program. Many of our members have taken this program and we highly recommend it! Please contact us at info@mentalhealthworldwide.com if you would like to receive the attachments. 

Dear Colleagues

We are pleased to inform you that the International  Diploma on Mental Health, Human Rights and Law is currently accepting applications for the academic year 2016-17. The Diploma, now in its ninth year of existence, is a collaboration between the World Health Organization and the Indian Law Society, India.  The course  builds the capacity of students to advocate for human rights and to influence national legislative and policy and service reform in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other key international human rights standards. It is a one year Diploma and includes two residential sessions and distance learning.

Students to date have comprised health and mental health professionals, lawyers, mental health service users/survivors, government officials, social workers, human rights defenders and families and carers.  The course is taught by a faculty of renowned international experts in the area.  More information about the Diploma is also available at: http://cmhlp.org/diploma

The prospectus and application form for the Diploma are attached. Applications can also be submitted online at: http://cmhlp.org/applications-and-fees/how-to-enroll

In addition, the Open Society Institute (OSI) will provide funding for two students from Central & Eastern Europe/former Soviet Union to participate in the course. These are fully funded fellowships and include tuition fees, travel, accommodation & living expenses for the residential sessions.

For any queries, please contact the course coordinators:

Best wishes,
Natalie

______________

Natalie Drew
Mental Health Policy and Service Development (MHP)
Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
World Health Organization
20 Avenue Appia
CH-1211 Geneva 27
Tel: +41 22 791 3206
Fax: +41 22 791 4160
Email:  drewn@who.int

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Non-presentation of Mental Health Bill — Zambia

From our member Sylvester Katotnoka, Executive Director, Mental Health Users Network of Zambia and Disability Rights Watch Zambia. We would all like to express our deep concern that the Zambian Ministry of Health continues to disregard mental health. The current Mental Health Act is from 1949 and allows abuse of the rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with mental health conditions! We are asking the Zambian Ministry of Health and all relevant government ministries to immediately and positively respond to our colleagues in Zambia. Thank you. 

OUR CONTEST LETTER TO THE ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT ON FAILURE TO ENACT THE MENTAL HEALTH BILL

17th February, 2016.

The Minister,

Ministry of Health,

Ndeke house,

Lusaka.

Dear Honourable Minister,

Re: Non-presentation of the Mental Health Bill to Parliament in the Current Sitting

We write to officially register our concern on the non-presentation of the Mental Health Bill of 2016 to Parliament in the current sitting despite the completion of the drafting process. We raise this concern following your announcement through the media that the Bill would not be presented due the fact that there are many Bills to be considered in the current sitting. This tells us that issues around mental health and disability in general are not a priority of the government.

We take note that the formulation of the new Mental Health Bill started as far as two decades ago. The draft Bill has been with the Ministry of Health and only went to the Ministry of Justice in 2015. Its movement to the Ministry of Justice gave us complete hope. Furthermore, we have attended two drafting workshop led by Ministry of Justice and our belief was that the Bill was ready to be presented to Parliament. We receive the news that the Bill will not get to Parliament in the current sitting with shock and this raises desperation in us.

Honourable, you are very much aware that the Bill is intended to repeal the Mental Disorders Act of 1949. The Act of 1949 continues to portray persons with mental impairments as idiots, imbeciles and less human. It has perpetuated the gross abrogation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with mental impairments. The police and other wings of the justice system have continued to use the Mental Disorders Act of 1949 to abuse the rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with mental impairments. The archaic Act is not constitutional and is not in conformity will International Human Rights Law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is not also in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and principles. The Act of 1949 remains enforceable despite having a Constitution referred as being progressive after signing by His Excellence, President Edgar Lungu. Is this not a paradox?

We are aware that you say that there are many Bills in this sitting because of the aligning of many laws to the new Constitution. The Mental Health Bill is equally aligning the Mental Disorders Act of 1949 to the new Constitution! Why acting in a discriminatory manner by excluding issues of mental health?

We demand that we urgently receive an answer to the following questions:

1.Are issues concerning mental health a priority to the government?

2.Does government recognise the effect and impact of mental health problems on the families, community, and the nation as a whole?

3.The government is happy and comfortable with the dehumanizing provisions of the Mental Disorders Act of 1949. Are we correct?

4.If so, is government deliberately not prioritising mental health issues in as far as inclusive laws and policies is concerned?

5.Is government indirectly asking us to seek judicial intervention to declare the Mental Disorders Act of 1949 null and void due to its noncompliance to the Constitution of Zambia and International Human Rights Law? We are fully ready to take this direction!

Honourable, we recommend that:

1.You immediately take the necessary steps to ensure that the Bill is passed by the current sitting of Parliament. This means that the Bill will be passed by Parliament by 10th March, 2016.

2.You produce a comprehensive statement on how you treat issues of mental health in relation to the above questions.

We look forward to your positive response. Persons with mental health impairments are 100% citizens!

Signed,

Sylvester Katotnoka, Bruce Chooma,

Executive Director, Coordinator,

Mental Health Users Network of Zambia. Disability Rights Watch.

Cc. Permanent Secretary; Ministry of Health.

Cc. Attorney General; Republic of Zambia.

Cc. Director of Litigation; Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

Cc. President; Ellis and Company.

Cc. Executive President; Disability Rights Watch.

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Plight of mental health rehabilitation — Zambia

From Zambia: 

THE PLIGHT OF MENTAL HEALTH REHABILITATION

It is said that “Mental Health is Real Health” and one would never appreciate this fact until they know what really mental health is all about. Mental Health can basically be understood as the psychological state of well-being, characterized by continuing personal growth, a sense of purpose in life, self-acceptance, and positive relations with others. A number of different aspects of life do influence the mental state of a human being and these aspects include working life, family life, and the social role that one occupies in the community. Negative experiences in these areas reduce one’s overall sense of well-being thereby leading to mental illness.

Another influence on mental health is stress. Generally, we experience stress every day in a lot of areas like major life events, such as divorce, death of a spouse, loss of a job, and illness in the family. Besides that, economic hardship, unemployment, and poverty also produce chronic stress. These events deeply affect one’s ability to cope and function effectively thus disrupting one’s mental state. Mental Health is a goal we must aspire to achieve.

For a very long time, mental illnesses have been regarded as problems of the very poorest in society and have received high level of negligence towards the promotion of mental health. We need to take things easy in life and make sure that our ability to modify our lives to more adaptive ways is key. There is a fine line in mental health, this is the reason why others in some cases fail and end up being admitted in mental institutions.

In Zambia we are privileged to have a mental health rehabilitation centre where patients go for rehabilitation. However, the state in which the centre operates in leaves much to be desired.

A visit to Nsadzu Rehabilitation Centre in Chadiza Eastern Province of Zambia would make you have a change of heart. Concerns have been voiced that raise issues of human rights crisis and an urgent need for change, with little response. While Nsadzu is named as a rehabilitation facility, no residents seem to have ever moved from this place back to their families or to new environments.

The general feel of the place, though set in a lovely natural environment, is one of abandonment. The inadequate physical structures for living, cooking and in existent laundry facilities with doors to rooms suffering from termite damage; buildings looking structurally unsound with sections of the wall missing from the floor to the roof level; the skinny and dirty old men and women; are the sights that greet you as you arrive.

The centre used to house about 30 residents but now currently 14, without any transfers out. The age range is from young adult to elderly with some of the residents having been at the centre since the 1980s.

Residents develop swollen limbs, rash and then slowly die due to poor nutrition and care. After death, the residents’ burial-site is just in the nearby bush, then day-to-day activities resumes immediately which is a normal routine in this community. Concerning visitations, no one remembers ever being visited by any relative. Unfortunately, it is being forgotten that it is just a rehabilitation process for a time period where the need for repatriation back to their families or society is inevitably essential.

As it should concern any person with a sound mind, such a situation that our relatives live in, is a humanitarian crisis. It falls short by a very long way in providing a healthy, safe and meaningful environment or definition of rehabilitation. Residents’ vulnerability as amplified by the lack of alternative options for care and complete reliance on the rehabilitation centre to meet their needs; the psychological and torturous impacts on the surviving residents after the death of their newly-found families, while knowing that they would never leave; is a humanitarian emergency.

Such is a typical picture of how mental health issues are being handled in most African countries, sometimes even worse. This is the time we must put aside stigma associated with mental illness and embrace one another as one family. Africa has a rich culture of caring for fellow neighbours. Neglect of relatives sent to various forms of rehabilitation centres must be abhorred. Family and social support whenever crises occurs is vital.

Mental illness is real and anyone can be affected at anytime. We need to have a change of mentality, an open mind to freely talk about mental health issues just like any other illness. Social support from friends and family members is fundamentally important to recovery. These can take several forms such as a simple step of responding with concern and care, empathy, and advice. Social support is our pride as Africans, let us embrace it and lead by example.

Written By;

Dalitso Maseko,

Zambia

©2016

 

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Gregoire Ahongbonon: Freeing people chained for being ill W. Africa

Excellent article by BBC. Gregoire Ahongbonon: Freeing people chained for being ill. In West Africa. Saint Camille Association.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35586177?SThisFB

STOP CHAINING!! 

We couldn’t agree with Gregoire Ahongbonon more:

“In the third millennium the fact that we can find people in chains, and shackled to trees, I can’t accept it, it has to stop. And I will say it again and again – as long as there is just one human being in chains then the whole of humanity is in chains.”

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