Mental Health and Due Process in the Americas: Protecting the Human Rights of Persons Involuntarily Admitted to and Detained in Psychiatric Institutions
Throughout history, persons with mental disabilities have suffered repeatedly some of the worst indignities of any group. Feared and misunderstood, they often have been excluded from meaningful participation in civil society and denied the opportunities-taken for granted by most-to live freely and make decisions for themselves. Like many vulnerable groups, they have endured inequality, discrimination, and serious social stigma. They have also been subjected to involuntary admission and detention in psychiatric facilities and other institutions. Involuntary confinement is a drastic deprivation of liberty that can only be justified under narrow circumstances; yet, in many countries in the Americas, persons with mental disabilities can be involuntarily confined for indefinite periods with hardly any justification and little or no oversight. Such circumstances clearly violate the human rights principles found in international and regional legal instruments.