9. Health, Health Care and the Right to Health

  1. Felicity Callard1,
  2. Norman Sartorius2,
  3. Julio Arboleda-Flórez3,
  4. Peter Bartlett4,
  5. Hanfried Helmchen5,
  6. Heather Stuart3,
  7. Jose Taborda6 and
  8. Graham Thornicroft1

Published Online: 17 APR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781119945352.ch9

Mental Illness, Discrimination and the Law: Fighting for Social Justice

Mental Illness, Discrimination and the Law: Fighting for Social Justice

How to Cite

Callard, F., Sartorius, N., Arboleda-Flórez, J., Bartlett, P., Helmchen, H., Stuart, H., Taborda, J. and Thornicroft, G. (2012) Health, Health Care and the Right to Health, in Mental Illness, Discrimination and the Law: Fighting for Social Justice, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781119945352.ch9

Author Information

  1. 1

    Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK

  2. 2

    Association for the Improvement of Mental Health Programmes, Geneva, Switzerland

  3. 3

    Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

  4. 4

    School of Law and Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, UK

  5. 5

    Charité – University Medicine Berlin, Germany

  6. 6

    Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre, Brazil

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 APR 2012
  2. Published Print: 13 APR 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119953548

Online ISBN: 9781119945352



  • diagnostic overshadowing;
  • health care disparities;
  • highest attainable standards of health;
  • right to health;
  • treatment bias;
  • treatment overshadowing;
  • UN CRPD Article 25;
  • underlying determinants of health


We explore why people with mental health problems do not receive the same access to, and quality of, health care as people without mental health problems. That discrimination and inequalities are commonplace in health systems is not only discouraging, but can also contribute to the severity, duration and consequences of mental illness. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) elaborates on the ‘right to health’ outlined in the UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and clearly specifies that persons with disabilities shall be provided with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons. There is growing interest in how to use these international instruments to uphold the positive right to health – either through strategic litigation or through projects to enforce domestic judgements that have been made in relation to economic, social and cultural rights.