An overwhelming majority of people with mental and psychosocial disabilities are living in poverty, poor physical health, and are subject to human rights violations. Mental health issues cannot be considered in isolation from other areas of development, such as education, employment, emergency responses and human rights capacity building. Development stakeholders – including governments, civil society, bilateral development agencies, research institutions and others – need to ensure that people with mental and psychosocial disabilities benefit physical and mental development of children development efforts, just like any other group.
People with mental and psychosocial disabilities are a vulnerable group as a result of the way they are treated by society. They are subjected to stigma and discrimination on a daily basis, and they experience extremely high rates of physical and sexual victimization. Frequently, people with mental disabilities encounter restrictions in the exercise of their political and civil rights, and in their ability to participate in public affairs. Vulnerable groups often targeted by development groups also have high rates of mental disabilities. People with mental disabilities are not only missed by development programmes, but can be actively excluded from these programmes. This is in spite of the fact that an explicit goal of development is to reach the most vulnerable.
A number of principles and actions, consistent with the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, will substantially improve the lives of people with mental and psychosocial disabilities and thus improve development outcomes for these individuals, their families, and their communities. These evidence-based strategies should be integrated into national development and sectoral strategies and plans. Mental health services should be integrated systematically into all health services including primary level care. Mental health issues should be integrated into broader health policies, programmes, and partnerships.