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Int J Psychiatr Nurs Res. 2005 Sep;11(1):1211-7.

Advocating for the rights of the mentally ill: a global issue.

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Northern Illinois University School of Nursing, Dekalb, IL 60115, USA.


The media has shared with the American public horrors of abuse towards prisoners of war in recent newscasts. Prisoners, and others in vulnerable positions, can fall victim to neglect and abuse at the hands of their captors. Often, human rights can be violated. Therefore, people in vulnerable positions need advocates who will defend and protect their rights. The role of advocate is familiar to nursing professionals. In the mid-1980's advocacy grew attention due to disclosure of human rights abuses in mental health facilities. Today, worldwide, nursing leaders continue to confront abuses in multiple settings. In the United States, the Human Rights Authority was specifically developed to address issues of abuse of persons with physical disabilities and or mental illness. Globally, nurses will want to support the development and enforcement of policies that protect persons in vulnerable positions.

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