The World Health Organization announced they are dedicating International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2005 to all people diagnosed with mental disorders “and the all-too-prevalent violations of their basic human rights.”

Benedetto Saraceno, MD, Director; Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse World Health Organization [photo credit: MindFreedom]

To draw attention to this crisis the World Health Organization (WHO) has created a new online photo essay called ‘Forgotten People: Mental Health and Human Rights,” along with other new materials and a press conference.

MindFreedom International, as a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) accredited by the UN, has worked with WHO for two years encouraging a focus on the topic of human rights and mental health.

MindFreedom director David Oaks said, “While we have so very much that we seek to change about the mental health system, including at WHO, we are gratified to see that WHO is exposing the emergency of human rights in the mental health system to people internationally.”

MindFreedom issued a call for an “International mobilization of resources for a nonviolent revolution throughout the mental health system.”

For more info e-mail office@mindfreedom.org


Links to the new WHO campaign including the photo essay are here:


or go directly here:


The WHO News Release on Human Rights and Mental Health with their dedication of 10 December:



BELOW is a forwarded message from Benedetto Saraceno, MD, Director of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse World Health.

Dr. Saraceno has repeatedly declared for the past two years that human rights violations in the mental health system are a “global emergency,” which is a request MindFreedom has made to WHO in several meetings.

WHO is the United Nations specialized agency for health governed by 192 Member States through the World Health Assembly.


Begin forwarded message:

From: “Saraceno, Benedetto” <saracenob at who.int>

Date: December 7, 2005 4:36:16 AM PST

Subject: WHO commemorates International Human Right Day focusing on Mental Health

Today the Director General of World Health Organization Dr LEE Jong-wook said: “There are still far too many violations of the human rights of people with mental disorders. However, too often both the health and the human rights agendas overlook these problems, and as a result, they slip between the cracks. We have solutions to reverse the situation, in rich and poor countries alike. I urge countries, international organizations, academia, the healthcare and legal sectors and others to take a hard look at the conditions of people with mental disorders and take action to promote and protect their rights”

The World Health Organisation Headquarter (WHO HQ) is focusing on mental health for International Human Rights Day this year. They are unveiling a photo essay today, 7 December, at a press conference in Geneva. The feature utilises photographs and personal testimonies to illustrate the abuses and discrimination faced by people with mental disorders. It also highlights the solutions available to reduce the suffering of people with mental disorders, and the work WHO is doing to bring about these solutions.

Benedetto Saraceno, MD; Director; Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse World Health Organization; 20, avenue Appia; 1211 Geneva, Switzerland

Phone: +41 22 791 3603/3634 Fax: +41 22 791 4160



* PLEASE FORWARD this important news far and wide, to all appropriate places on and off the Internet!

* PLEASE THANK WHO for exposing the crisis of human rights in the mental health system, and express your hope for significant change, by e-mailing a civil note to WHO and Dr. Benedetto Saraceno.


info@who.int and saracenob@who.int


WHO; Avenue Appia 20; 1211 Geneva 27; Switzerland

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