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COVID-19 and persons with psychosocial disabilities

Highlights from the COVID-19 and Persons with Psychosocial disabilities statement:

We, persons with psychosocial disabilities from regional and international organizations across the world, are concerned about the vulnerability of persons with psychosocial disabilities to COVID-19 infection and deaths. ‘Persons with psychosocial disabilities’ refers to a historically discriminated and marginalised group that includes users and ex-users of psychiatry,  victims-survivors of psychiatric violence, mad people, voice-hearers, and people with psychosocial diversity.

  • States have the responsibility under international law to respect and ensure the human rights of people with psychosocial disabilities on an equal basis with others.

We call on national and local governments to implement the following measures:

  • Drastically reduce the number of people in psychiatric units and institutions, and institute a moratorium on involuntary admissions. Ensure that no one is compelled to remain in such settings against their will, where they are at greater risk of infection, more severe illness, and death.
  • Drastically reduce the population in jails, prisons and correctional facilities, including by releasing those who are in pre-trial, imprisoned for non-violent offences, or scheduled to be released soon, including persons with psychosocial disabilities on an equal basis as others.
  • Ensure that persons with psychosocial disabilities have equal access to testing, healthcare and public information related to COVID-19. …Persons with psychosocial disabilities should not be diverted from mainstream hospitals to psychiatric units and institutions for treatment, where healthcare for COVID-19 is often of a lower standard.
  • Public restrictions based on public health, and actions of law enforcement and security personnel, must not discriminate in any way against persons with psychosocial disabilities. …
  •  No one should be compelled to take psychiatric drugs or other treatments that inflict suffering and that compromise their health or immune systems.
  • Ensure persons with psychosocial disabilities are not discriminated againstin accessing the temporary measures implemented by governments to ensure the continuity of services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including education and social protection programs.
  • Ensure access by homeless people, including those with psychosocial disabilities, to preventive measures against COVID-19 infection, … Governments must ensure that people with psychosocial disabilities who are homeless during the period of social isolation are not mistreated by authorities, and provided with water, food and shelter on equal basis with others.
    • Guarantee the continued provision of harm reduction services, such as needle and syringe programs and opioid substitution therapy, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among drug users.

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