Society and mental health

37% UN countries don't let people with mental illness marry—Survey

White Swan Foundation

About one third of UN member countries do not have voting rights for the persons with mental illness. In 11 percent of the countries, one can annul their marriage on the basis of their partner's mental illness. This and other statistics were revealed as part of a global study conducted on 193 UN countries. The survey talks about the inherent discrimination against persons with mental illness in the areas of marriage, voting rights, employment and contract.

This global survey, funded by the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), reveals that 36 percent member countries do not allow persons with mental illness to vote. About 37 percent of the countries prohibit marriage for people with mental health problems. About half of the member countries have no written rules protecting the employees who have been terminated or dismissed based on health grounds, including mental health problems. The survey further revealed that about a quarter of these countries do not have laws that prevent discrimination in the recruitment of people with mental illnesses.

One in five people suffer from mental health issues. Moreover, there is an existing stigma around mental illnesses in the society, which is evident from the survey. Dinesh Bhugra, president of the WPA, said, “It is important, that clinicians around the globe work with patients, their carers, and their families, as well as with relevant organizations representing these groups, to challenge discrimination, change laws, and ensure that these are applied equally. There is simply no explanation for continuing discrimination against individuals with mental illness, their families, and those who care for them, whether they are professional or lay carers.” The Association has created a Bill of Rights, appealing to all member country governments to ensure that there is no discrimination against people with mental illness or mental health problems based on their health status.

White Swan Foundation