World Mental Health Day 2019: A Focus on Zambia’s Mental Health Act

Salc : Annabel Raw

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year. This year, the theme addresses the important and difficult issue of suicide prevention. Across the world, people are uniting to share information on the public health problem of suicide, on how to prevent it, to reduce stigma and to support people who are struggling.

In doing this, we also need to address the law. Discriminatory laws and failing to protect the human rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities* is bad for mental health. In particular, we should consider the role of protecting the right to legal capacity.

In observance of this World Mental Health Day, SALC endorses this STATEMENT by our Zambian partners the Mental Health Users Network of Zambia (MHUNZA) and Disability Rights Watch (DRW) in which concerns are raised with a provision of the 2019 Mental Health Act that strips persons with psychosocial disabilities of their human right to legal capacity.

In addition, we are sharing below some useful resources to learn more about this provision in Zambia’s Mental Health Act and about the right to legal capacity.

  • For a Policy Brief on the legal capacity provision in Zambia’s Mental Health Act see HERE.
  • For a pamphlet to understand the right to legal capacity in 6 steps, see HERE.
  • For a quick overview of why persons with psychosocial disabilities are calling for the legal capacity provision in Zambia’s Mental Health Act to be amended, see HERE.

*The term “psychosocial disability” is used here to refer to the disabilities of people with either diagnosed or perceived mental health conditions, which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.