Psychiatry and injustice: human rights defenders in Belarus against disability discrimination

According to the world health organization, every fourth inhabitant of the planet suffers from one or another mental disorder, every second has a chance of getting it in their lifetime. Belarus is no different from other European countries the number of people with intellectual or mental disorders, but differ in the rights of citizens.

According to the Office for the rights of people with disabilities, deprivation of legal capacity leads to a boarding school, which leaves very little chance for a happy return to society. Anyway the return. Office together with the European partners leads the campaign for “deinstitutionalization”. We are talking about the possibility for man to live without a critical need to choose between living at home or in a boarding school, and also about the possibility of a conscious and independent choice. To inform the public, including employers, is deselected first Belarusian video about the problems of employment of people with relevant diagnoses. However, as reported by RFI producer of the center of contemporary culture “Running turtle” Leonid Kalitenya, the roller will not be in rotation on state television.

Leonid Kalitenya: “In fact, we have a media sphere in Belarus is a big problem — it is six times underdeveloped relative to the amount of the population, to the development of the economy that we have. Even if, say, we spend a hell of efforts, “extending” it on the Belarusian TV, I’m not sure that it will give some effect. On the background of a radiant parade of equipment it is just not visible or look a little messy, and international channels it will not show. So we are left with only the so-called “sarafan” conference, our events where we can for three minutes to show what destigmatization etc. and it is a great tool to work with our regions and to work in social networks where the audience interested in the topic, and to quickly understand, she has a tool such as a roller. I hope that will spread through Facebook and instagram. Rather, through Facebook, because we have a number of partners who have thousands of subscribers — this is the basic channel. I hope that we will achieve more than a thousand hits. For Belarus than one thousand hits is a lot. You need to very much work in progress. Although in the European project, as far as I know, a lot of money on promotion, no. In this way, the problem of the project — the creation of the video there is money, and its advertising and promotion — no.”

Stigma in psychiatry is the separation of the individual from others by the presence of psychiatric diagnosis, which leads to discrimination. Last week representatives who discussed with Belarusian specialists local context, says Deputy Director of the Republican scientific and practical centre for mental health Irina khvostova.

Irina khvostova: “One of those was just incredible stigma in our society. Stigmatized not only average people but also many people who determine the fate of, say, executives. People with intellectual, mental disorder is always perceived in our society as a potential source of problems is in the very best, at worst as a threat”.

According to a study commissioned by the Office for the rights of people with disabilities over the past five years at the level of mass consciousness has not practically changed personal perception of people with disabilities, the transformation of stereotypes about this group is very slow. The level of personal distance is still very high, almost a fifth of Belarusians do not accept for yourself personally any relationship with a person with a disability, even hypothetically. Perhaps the stereotyping of this group is rooted much deeper than expected, but probably also something that affects the General culture “abstract of tolerance”, common in Belarus, which means installation on peaceful coexistence with people of different views, lifestyle and aspirations not through communication, understanding and interaction, and through fencing of its space and the virtual conclusion of the “peace contract”: we do not touch you and you to us do not interfere. Campaign coordinator Natalia Mankovskaya says that stigma grows on people’s fear of certain medical diagnoses.

Natalia Mankovskaya: “the Problem of stigmatization of people with mental disorders is very large. Here, in principle, can we even discern the problem of stigmatization of people with intellectual disability, especially mild or moderate degree. Quite a lot of projects aimed at the social inclusion of such young people. Probably they can handle. Maybe they need some kind of support throughout life. There are, of course, such a stressful situation for which there is no pattern, but mostly they can live with themselves. And it is noticeable, even compared to international studies that stigma is somewhat less than if you compare the stigma against people with mental illness. Is schizophrenia, schizotypal disorder, schizoaffective, maybe to a lesser extent bipolar, because here have more to talk about it, and people are less afraid, because it is rather affective mood disorder than psychotic pathology. And here is very difficult with this stigma to fight. People the maximum that you can afford, to say: well, these people somewhere in there, let them be to live somewhere, I don’t want it to be my neighbors, my loved ones, I would not want to be friends, to work together also is not desirable. This is a very disturbing indicator. This suggests that people anywhere can’t find. Even without any reason. Fears are very high, they are born out of misunderstanding”.

With regard to the direction of people in boarding schools, it is, according to Mankowski, almost always equal to civil death.

Natalia Mankovskaya: “there are two aspects. First, in order for the person to go to boarding school, you need incapacitation. Even if we imagine a situation in which the person understands, that cannot live independently and he may be better at the orphanage — that appendage is always obligatory deprivation of legal capacity, differently — in any way. In the opposite situation, the person could get some care and help, but to go to work feasible, to socialize. But this option is not possible. Another option: the consequences of deprivation of legal capacity is a civil death and, in principle, the impossibility of their rights as myself to implement. We in the Belarusian legislation of the concept of competence (possession of rights) and legal capacity (the ability to realize independently their rights) are merged discriminating. It turns out, if one can not theoretically to implement them by yourself, then rights do not actually possess it, for it implements them guardian. The solution could be a system of support of decision-making when the person is made to understand the value of legal action, and this decision is approved by a guardian or guardianship — any property relations, for example. But the questions, for example, where a person to live, whom to be friends, when to go and when to go home, you have to decide for yourself. Of course, within the limits that do not threaten security.”

Natalia Mankovskaya notes that the Office deals with the problem of deinstitutionalization since 2012 and puts “enough measurable goals”.

Natalia Mankovskaya: “We insist that the government together with civil society should develop a program of deinstitutionalization, the course must be laid. It is clear that it is not a question of one year or even five or ten years is not done in time. But it must be done, the program and the roadmap needs to be developed about how people can get support at the local level.”

Like so much in Belarus, the resolution of these issues depends, says Natalia Mankovskaya, “from the political will of the country”.

Natalia Mankovskaya: “We see that a number of boarding schools [for children-orphans and remained without guardianship] is reduced, i.e. the number of children institutionalized forms is dramatically reduced because it was a political decision that we move away from a system of institutions to family-based care — increasing the number of foster families number of families where children are brought up in foster care, increasing adoptions, but a little less. And the same could be in the field of psycho-neurological boarding schools — both children and adults. There are no systematic measures little can be done. Public organizations are fine, but problem not solve systemic”.

While decision-making takes place without consultation with the community. So, in the summer on amendments to the Civil code on limitation of capacity of relevant organizations learned from the Internet in the near future will change the law on psychiatric care “project not found anywhere else,” says Natalia Mankovskaya.

There are 70 homes for the elderly and adults with disabilities — that’s more than 17 thousand people, and 10 for children for more than a thousand minors residents.
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