Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability
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World Mental Health Day

Published 10 Oct 2020

‘We need a deinstitutionalisation strategy for persons with disability’

A move towards de-institutionalisation to enable disabled people to choose where and with whom to live, and to be able to live a dignified life while making their own decisions, would be an important step towards the promotion of better mental health for persons with a disability, said CRPD Commissioner Oliver Scicluna.

On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, the Commission for the Rights of Persons with a Disability (CRPD) emphasised the need for a deinstitutionalization strategy which would work towards challenging the misconceptions about the right to living independently within the community.

“Rather than building infrastructural projects for residential homes, the focus should be on developing services which will enable disabled people to live independently in the community, with support if they require it,” said the Commissioner.

Article 19 of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) clearly advocates against the use of institutions and promotes the importance of having proper allocation of services within the community.

The Convention also states that persons with mental health issues are to be considered persons with a disability in their own right.

Earlier this year, the Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disability and the Mental Health Commissioner, in collaboration with NGOs working in the mental health sector, signed a declaration highlighting the importance of both Commissions and NGOs to work together in order to assert that the services and benefits required by persons with mental health issues should be given equal strength as other forms of impairments.

The Covid-19 health crisis has presented an additional challenge to those with mental health issues; it has also brought about episodes of mental health issues in persons who had not previously experienced such issues.

The Commission believes that there is currently a lack of psychological and emotional support for persons with disability and their families as well as for frontliners and their families.

“We have had many cases of disabled persons and family members who experienced additional stress and anxiety, due to the limitations on the services provided to them as a result of the pandemic. There were other instances of persons with disabilities who faced loneliness due to partial lockdowns, which resulted in mental health issues.”