The work of Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP

Mental Healkth in Human Rights-FGIP is involved in work in a variety of areas of mental health with a paryticular focus on human rights issues. 

GIP takes a comprehensive approach to its work in each of its program areas. This is because, in the case of mental health afflictions, it is particularly important to address the problems not just of the patients, but their families and broader social environments, as well as the overarching social, political and legal factors that can hinder or facilitate effective care, support and integration.

Our commitment to comprehensive change means that we pay close attention to cross-cutting themes such as increased user and family involvement, community care and attention to human rights.

Our approach also involves working step-by-step to empower and equip those we work with with more progressive methods and tools.


Mission and Vision

The mission and vision of Global Initiative on Psychiatry was formulated during the second half of the 1990s and has remained unaltered ever since.

Also the federation has this mission and vision as the foundation of its activities: 

Every person in the world should have the opportunity to realize his or her full potential as a human being, notwithstanding personal vulnerabilities or life circumstances.  Every society, accordingly, has a special obligation to establish a comprehensive, integrated system for providing ethical, humane and individualized treatment, care, and rehabilitation, and to counteract stigmatization of, and discrimination against, people with mental disorders or histories of mental health treatment.  An enlightened services system promotes mutually respectful partnerships between persons who receive services and those who deliver them, protects the human rights of users and the ethical autonomy of service providers, and facilitates the engagement of users, families, and all other stakeholders in advocating for and achieving improvements in the quality of care.

Recognizing that these aspirations remain everywhere unfulfilled, and that the rights and needs of persons with mental disorders are particularly vulnerable to infringement and neglect, the mission of Geneva Initiative on Psychiatry is to promote humane, ethical, and effective mental health care throughout the world and to support a global network of individuals and organizations to develop, advocate for, and carry out the necessary reforms.

Human Rights and Mental Health

Mental health care is a mirror of society. The more humane and civil a society, the more chance there is for a humane, user-oriented mental health care system in which human rights are respected and users and their carers collaborate in selecting and delivering services. However, a civil society does not automatically produce a humane and user-oriented mental health care system. In spite of the fact that a large portion of society is affected by mental health problems, users typically remain stigmatized, invisible, and often neglected, and as a result mental health services are often under-financed and under-rated. People with mental illness are often segregated -- psychologically and, in many cases, also physically and legally – from the rest of society. In fact, a genuine commitment to improve treatment of people with mental disabilities may be the most revealing measure of progress in a modern society. A truly “civil” society elevates the position of all its most vulnerable citizens, serves the needs of persons with mental problems, provides adequate funding for mental health care, and assures that services are user-oriented – in other words, the needs and wishes of those using the services are the central considerations in shaping policy and practice.

Mental health care has always been a low priority in most of the countries in the world In many countries, mental patients were stashed away in large institutions outside the city, where people were ignored and, all too often, left to die. This mentality, which relegated mental patients to a sub-human status, and even branded relatives of the mentally ill, still pervades many societies. Much work needs to be done in this field, to change the image and position of persons with mental problems. This is a task that will take several decades to accomplish.

In many countries, the human rights of mental patients are violated on a massive scale. In many institutions, living conditions are appalling; methods of treatment are outdated; staff is underpaid and insufficiently educated and unable to deal with the patients’ problems; abuses are rampant; and little hope exists that the care provided will help to bring persons with mental illness back to society. In short, becoming mentally ill is usually a life sentence to a form of exile or second-class citizenship.

Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP is committed to achieving genuine improvements in mental health care and in respect for human rights, and believes that these improvements need to be achieved by opening doors, not closing them. We believe in building partnerships and finding ways to enable local leaders to embrace the need for correction themselves. This strategy of “operating in silence” is not necessarily contradicted or undermined by the activities of those who voice their criticisms more stridently and more openly.

Forensic psychiatry and prison mental health

Forensic Psychiatry, the use of psychiatry in legal proceedings or purposes, is generally understood to be a specialization within psychiatry operating within various fields of law, such as juvenile and family law, civil law, and administrative law. Forensic psychiatry is most widely known, however, for its interaction with criminal law, including penitentiary regulations.

Among those who are incarcerated, unnecessary physical, mental, and social damage caused by detention itself should be prevented, and a return to society, with a minimal chance of repeating criminal behavior, should be the ultimate objective. Prison Mental Health involves efforts to effectively support prisoners that suffer from a psychological disorder and reduce the number of prisoners that develop psychological difficulties as a result of being imprisoned.

FGIP's aim in this program area is to focus, where possible, on the whole chain of necessary forensic and prison mental health interventions, starting with prevention (e.g. of juvenile delinquency), crisis services and forensic psychiatric assessment, forensic psychiatric treatment of prison mental health services in places of detention, rehabilitation and resocialization of forensic psychiatric patients and, last but not least, all aspects related to social integration.

Additionally, in most of the countries where we are active we are increasingly involved in policy development.

A concern with respect for human rights strongly underpins our work in this program area as abuses are, unfortunately, all too common.



Global society is experiencing the biggest crisis Since the Second World War. The resulting stress and anxiety undermines the psychological well-being of individuals, families, and communities. People with psychosocial disability, and the staff who provide care, are particularly vulnerable. FGIP is actively engaged in providing that support. For more information click here