Being a mental health and disability rights advocate who lives with severe mental illness in the United States is exhausting, and it can feel like never ending battle of fighting discriminatory mental health care policies. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States ranks in third when measuring countries that face the greatest “burden” of mental health and behavioral disorders worldwide — a statistic that’s determined by the years of life lost to a mental disability, and death rates of those with mental illness. There is an alarming amount of improvements that need to be made to the mental health care system in the United States, but mental illness is a global issue that pervades all countries and cultures. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and despite that fact, many countries still do not actively prioritize mental health care.
WHO, in partnership with the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), has combatted that inaction, and advocated for equal rights of mentally ill people around the world. CRPD set forth guiding principles to ensure “persons with disabilities are entitled to the full spectrum of human rights and fundamental freedoms without discrimination.” However, mentally ill folks still face stigma, discrimination, and violations of their basic human rights on a global scale. This is how mental illness is treated in nine different countries around the world.