Since 2018, when the Lancet Commission on Mental Health was issued, TCI has worked to challenge and correct the medical oppression on us, persons with psychosocial disabilities, with the #WhatWENeed Campaign. The mental health sector and allied actors, particularly variants of the movements for global mental health and INGOs, have pushed our human rights to “Right to mental health” and SDG Goal 3. Considering that framing our needs under “mental health” has, since many decades, exposed us to risks of institutionalization and cruel, inhuman and torturous treatments, frequently without choice, this restriction of our lives and needs to SDG Goal 3 is suspect. We are not just asking for “mental health reform” but for a transformation of worldview, policies, laws and programs impacting us and our resettlement within the disability inclusion discourse. The campaign amplified our positioning that, “We are persons with disabilities. We are holders of all human rights as provided for, in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”. The campaign was also a way for our movement to reclaim the mental health week, starting the 1st week of October, to pass these key messages.
Every year, the campaign has focused on issues of topical interest at the time. Other than the issue of stopping the normative violence against us, inclusion in the SDGs, questions of our identity, political participation, support systems, de-institutionalization and various themes related to our community inclusion have been featured in the campaign by our members, partners and allies. The campaign gives a platform for our members to present their work and advocacy to a wider global audience.
This year, TCI has actively participated in seeing a UN “Guidelines on De-institutionalization, including during emergencies”, come to fruition 3. This development gives a very concrete platform for our advocacy. There is clear recognition that persons with psychosocial disabilities, ‘mad’ persons, persons of ‘unsound mind’, and persons with intersectional, neurodiverse identities are a historically oppressed group and there must be another way, going forwards. TCI’s cherished topic of “community inclusion” is building up into a global agenda for OPDs, many policy making organizations and the United Nations as well; while at the same time, several countries have still not raised the standards of inclusion and support for persons with psychosocial disabilities, striving to bring further reforms to irredeemable mental health laws. The topic of “reparations” towards a historically oppressed group is gaining ground.
Building on the signature of #WhatWENeed 2022, the campaign will offer spaces to TCI members worldwide to share their work, press forward on their key advocacy campaigns, curate events,
Specific to this year’s thematics are the following:
- De-institutionalization. We look forward to your experiences, articles, stories, documentation and other, of your response to the DI Guidelines and any advocacy actions that you / your organization may have taken around it (e.g. translation, petitioning the national government, building a campaign around it, etc.)
- Community Inclusion. In many policy circles, CI is being registered as ‘individualized support service’, such as a personal assistant, as an add on to a variety of other social, economic, educational and other services. In TCI, we debate this- will this service model of having a personal assistant complete the inclusion needs of a person with psychosocial disability? Share with us your ideas of what community inclusion looks for you? You can share write ups, list of ideas, photographs or videos to depict CI in your context etc.
- Access to justice: Several countries placed a reservation on Article 12- the right to equal recognition before the law. Those reservations have not been lifted yet, 15 years after the CRPD. Other countries have a wide variety of incapacity laws, depriving persons with psychosocial disabilities of their citizenship rights and personhood. Joining the enduring history of our struggles for ‘liberation’ from this bondage, TCI is intensifying its advocacy on removing these legal shackles, joining the #breakthechain campaigns worldwide, from a legal vantage point!! Community inclusion is impossible when our lives are interrupted by these legal barriers.
- Lived experiences of persons with intersectional and neurodiverse identities: TCI recently expanded its universe of membership to neurodiverse and gender diverse persons who experience discrimination on the basis of their diversity. If you also identify as a person with a disability, join us, write for us!!