The World Health Organization (WHO) announced a new mental health action plan today. The full text of Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan’s remarks can be found here:
Dr. Chan correctly notes “… the treatment of people with mental and behavioural problems remains cruel, inhuman, and degrading in a number of countries.” The plan she describes focuses heavily on ending the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.
The plan also favors a move away from hospitalization towards outpatient and community-based services. While this is a noble goal – it has actually been the practice in the Untied States for nearly 50 years. Unfortunately, the experience in the U.S. has been that those community-based services too frequently become easy prey for the budget cutter’s ax.