Launch of Human Rights and Mental Health Report

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United States’ National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) released a report on mental health and human rights in tandem with the Taskeen Health Initiative (Taskeen). The purpose of this report is to draw attention to the human rights violations and malpractice experienced by people with mental health issues due to the lack of adequate policy, legislation, licencing, qualification, and ethical mental health service delivery.

The Chairperson of the National Commission on Human Rights, Rabiya Javeri Agha, emphasised the importance of discussion while presenting the report’s findings to the audience, saying, “We need to move past the stigma and taboo around the subject of mental health and talk about these issues openly and without discrimination.” She also emphasised how, due to “limited regulation of the mental health sphere,” anyone can provide mental health counselling and treatment without accountability, which can lead to human rights abuses and the exploitation of vulnerable populations.

Promotion and regulation of morally sound mental health care services are urgent needs. I would like to highlight the centrality of the mental health and psychosocial support services in GBV prevention and response programmes, considering the needs and concerns of GBV survivors,” Dr. Bakhtior Kadirov, UNFPA’s acting country representative, added to the conversation, emphasising the importance of coordinated care delivery.

Despite a lack of data at the national level, it is believed that 20% of Pakistanis over the age of 18 will experience mental health issues at some point in their lives, and that 80% of those people will not have access to treatment.

In reality, this figure is probably low because people are afraid to ask for help when they’re having mental health problems, and because most people simply aren’t aware of the existence of mental health problems. People with mental health problems already face discrimination in the workplace because of their illness, and this only makes things worse. It has been estimated that this will cost the national treasury $6.2 billion USD in economic consequences.