International Policy Fellow 2004 - Dmitri Bartenev

Potential of Human Rights Standards for Deinstitutionalization of Mental Health Services in Russia: a comparative legal analysis

People with mental disabilities still remain invisible and excluded from the society. Mental disability is still considered to be almost entirely medical problem and social, cultural and other interrelated implications are not taken seriously. The Russian psychiatric practice places no emphasis on community-based care initiatives. Consequently there are no alternatives to the existing system of psychiatric hospitalization. The experience of other countries has proven that there are strong medical and economic incentives encouraging the movement of persons with mental disabilities out of large residential facilities into smaller home-like settings.

At the same time there are virtually no mental disability advocacy NGOs in Russia, nor there is significant public discussion about relevant governmental policies or strategies for deinstitutionalization of mental health care and strengthening equal participation of people with mental disabilities in society.

Picture taken at one of the mental hospitals in St. Petersburg advertising hospital care on so called "social grounds", i.e. without medical necessity but for the sake of convenience of the patient's relatives.

There is an increasing number of non-governmental organizations in other post-communist countries in Europe providing services to the mentally disabled based on the principle of inclusion and offering alternatives to institutionalized care. Their experience does not receive sufficient attention in Russia and the policies behind this movement have not been studied yet. >>> read more



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