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Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;25(5):365-9. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328356b7ed.

United Nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities: a roadmap for change.

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Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.



This study considers the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a tool for promoting the full social inclusion of people with a mental or intellectual disability.


The United Nations Convention has ushered in a new era of discourse that moves beyond a consideration of individual impairments, to focus on the social and environmental barriers that prevent full and effective social participation of people with disabilities. It provides an important social justice framework to guide and integrate disability policy within and across countries. In order to realize its potential, the mental health community must now actively develop a new disability discourse - one that moves beyond the traditional focus on negative protections, such as against forced confinement or coercive treatment, to one that examines the services and supports that are needed to allow people who have a mental illness to become fully functioning members of society. To meet the monitoring requirements of the Convention, the mental health community must actively seek population data to assess the nature of prejudice and discrimination experienced by people with a mental illness. An approach used by Statistics Canada is provided as one such example.


The United Nations Convention is an important roadmap for change, which can be used to shift current mental health discourse from a discussion emphasizing the protection of negative rights, such as from involuntary detention or coerced treatment, to one emphasizing social rights and civic participation.

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