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Side Event of Conference of State Parties

July 23, 2013

moosaMoosa Salie, Co-Chair reports on side event hosted by WNUSP and DPI held at the COSP in New York lat week on the 17 July 2013:

“It was attended by about forty people which notably included Professor Theresia Degener of the CRPD committee. Jagannath, Jolijn and I as well as Dorodi Sharma of DPI acquitted ourselves well of our tasks in presenting on the various topics in our side event on transforming communities for people with psychosocial disabilities.Martha Laclave did a great job in time keeping and facilitating the questions and answer session after the presentations.

 The session was kicked off by opening remarks by Shuaib Chalklen, UN SR on disability. He especially highlighted the great growth in the WNUSP and its regional bodies and made mention of PANUSP in particular. What he sees as one of the priorities for the movement of persons with psychosocial disabilities is developing more organizations especially at the country level. Dorodi Sharma emphasized the same point by giving examples of cross-disability cooperation especially given the fact that people with psychosocial disabilities are underrepresented. She thinks persons with psychosocial disabilities could benefit from cross disability alliances in using their access to policy makers which are actually some of the examples of DPI trying to represent persons with psychosocial disabilities and their causes in context where their organizing is lacking to the point that in some countries national disability alliances are not even aware that persons with ‘mental illness’ are persons with disabilities.

 There were quite a few inputs from the audience reflecting issues of persons with psychosocial disabilities in different parts of the world: there was a question from Uzbekistan indicating their difficulty to understand the idea that a person with ‘such problem’ doesn’t have to go to see a doctor first and the question raised whether it is ok for family members to give consent in the place of person afflicted by illness. This showed how much work we still have to do in raising awareness on the paradigm shift. A DPI member from Jamaica referred to our presentation as an eye-opener saying her organization was trying to help a person with psychosocial disability. After being diagnosed, persons with psychosocial disability in Jamaica can’t vote or hold  a bank account so she wanted to know if there is a policy to use as an international body to adopt the CRPD principles. She felt that the issues of persons with psychosocial disabilities are not really mentioned in the CRPD!

 A DPI member from Burundi spoke about the reality of a nation where almost every person had lost a family member. His question was whether the whole nation is made of persons with psychosocial disabilities. This is very concerning point of view where what is obviously a natural process of mourning is pathologised.  In his reply Jagannath pointed out that this is not about illness but ill social practices. I mentioned a user survivor movement in Rwanda where community counselors have been mobilized offering non-professional support so some good practices on how to deal with post-conflict trauma are coming from that part of the world.

 At the end we had some feedback from Theresia Degener who was especially grateful for Jolijn’s presentation on the Eindhoven model which is based on Family Group conferencing as a model which provides support and help to people in psychososicial crisis which is an alternative to forced psychiatry.  She said she found our presentations very helpful from the Committee’s perspective of working on recommendations on Art. 12. The Committee is looking for practical measures that they can recommend in the general comment on the Art.12. They want to send a strong message telling the world that it’s the central article of the CRPD in which the paradigm shift is exemplified. She mentioned a great input the Committee has already received from the WNUSP while working on Art. 12 and asked for information on more examples of practical alternatives to substituted decision making such as the Eindhoven model.

 This now seems to emerge as yet another task for our technical resource working group: gather best practices of alternatives to forced psychiatry and substitute decision making. This is yet another expectation from the WNUSP as a representative voice of persons with psychosocial disabilities.”


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