On Human Rights Day which falls on 21 March, the South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) would like to inform the public about the Mental Health Watch project, which has been created to allow easy and accessible reporting of human rights violations.
Persons living with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities are often subjected to various forms of abuse and discrimination. These abuses also often go unreported, due to fear of stigma and discrimination.
A recent survey conducted by SAFMH in Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape of people with psychosocial or intellectual disability found that:
· 50% of people experienced emotional, verbal or physical abuse
· 44% said that they experienced stigma and discrimination
· 34% did not adequately know their rights. This meant that they would possibly not be able to correctly identify when their rights are being violated
· 29% were denied employment opportunities due to their diagnosis
In response to this, SAFMH has now created an easily accessible menu of options for people to report human rights violations and receive advice and assistance.
Read up on your basic, universal human rights
There are four different ways in which people can report violations:
1. A dedicated sms / whatsapp line – 076 078 8722
2. A landline number to call – 011 781 1852
3. A dedicated email address – firstname.lastname@example.org
4. A form that can filled in and submitted via the SAFMH website – www.safmh.org (Click on Programmes then on Human Rights)
This system is already in effect, and will offer people help in enforcing the rights laid out in the South African Bill of Rights, the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Mental Health Care Act, and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.
SAFMH believes the Mental Health Watch project will enable people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities to better understand and enforce their rights.
Causes of intellectual disability
Coping with mental disability
Happy humans know their rights
Image: human rights poster from Shutterstock