Statement of Purpose From the “Trans Asian Strategy Group for persons with psychosocial disabilities”

Statement of Purpose  From the “Trans Asian Strategy Group  for Persons with Psycho-social disabilities”

Prepared at

“Transforming communities for Inclusion of Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities: A Trans-Asia initiative”,

Held at Hotel Holiday Inn, 30th April – 4th of May 2013


People with psychosocial disabilities, along with a few cross disability leaders, from 5 countries of Asia (Nepal, Philippines, Bangladesh, China, India) met in Pune this summer, organized by the Bapu Trust and supported by the Foundation of the Open Society Institute[i].

The objectives of this meeting were to provide a regional space for people with psychosocial disabilities to share, learn from each other, and create strategies for inclusion; and to find a common vision for future advocacy on the implementation of CRPD for people with psychosocial disabilities, supported by the national cross-disability movements.

On 4th of May, persons with psycho-social disabilities from the region met, and we came up with a Statement of Purpose, for future action in the region. Our Statement of Purpose is as follows:

1)      We name ourselves as the “Trans Asian Strategy Group of Persons with psychosocial disabilities”.

2)      Our scope of work is Asia.

3)      Among the many identities available to us, we choose a common identity as “Persons with Psycho-social Disabilities”.

4)      Human experiences of ‘identity’ are broad and all encompassing, including gender, ethnic, professional, creative, recreational, sport, spiritual and other possibilities of belonging in groups. Our identity (as ‘user’ / ‘survivor’) should not be determined only in respect of our individual relationship with mental health system.

5)      Our purpose is to advocate for the inclusion of persons with psychosocial disabilities in the Asian region by using comprehensive strategies of (a) creation of knowledge base (b) development and sharing of social innovation and skills and (c) public policy advocacy in the region.

6)      We stand firm on the principles of CRPD and its broad and inclusive definition of disability.

7)      Congruent with the CRPD frame, we are not singularly focussed on medical treatment issues (either for or against). We highlight a range of issues beyond the notion of medical treatment : social inclusion, safety,  self-dignity and the fulfilment of human rights, liberty and freedoms, education, independent living, employment, etc. We will address the indivisibility of human rights as framed by the CRPD. In further discourse of our human rights, our priorities will be all civil and political rights, as we, as a constituency, are at more risk of losing these rights through incapacity norms.

8)      Health care services are already available as part of our choice in most countries of the region. We have certain expectations from health care services, viz., care and treatment should be available based on our choices and freedoms. Governments should recognize diversity of needs across the spectrum of mental health and psychosocial disability; and enable a diversity of services across the spectrum.

  1. Where non-medical alternatives do exist in Asia, health service providers often end up gate keeping, in the name of “best interest”. We expect existing health care service providers go beyond gate keeping on alternatives.
  2. Government should ensure and promote a wide range of non-medical support systems and alternatives, so that we can truly exercise choice.
  3. We have inherited many social, cultural and spiritual traditions and practices, which can be developed as stand-alone alternatives and / or to complement medical treatment, based on personal choice and genuine free and informed consent.

9)      We favour de-institutionalisation in the Asian countries where institutions do exist.

  1. We favour the preparation and transformation of communities for the inclusion, and full and effective participation of persons with psychosocial disabilities, by developing holistic community level support systems.
  2. The issue is not about being ‘least restrictive’ in medical practice, but how to enable a support system. Governments must engage in learning more about harm reduction strategies in situations of health care or other psychosocial crises.
  3. In the age of the CRPD, restriction of human rights is not option, and we are focussed on exploring ways of facilitating the support of persons who have psychosocial disability, in ways which are respectful of everyone’s human rights as human beings.
  4. There may be people in our community who experience extreme states and will appear to need involuntary treatment. But we can be respectful of their consent through the creation of different kinds of formal and informal support systems.
  5. We believe, based on new scientific knowledge, that early interventions must be skilled in holistic and alternative approaches, so that a chance at recovery can be provided right at the start of the psychosocial distress experience. If addressed early, many people who experience extreme states need never enter the medical system.
  6. We envision healthy mind and body for the region, not dependent on medicine but free of medicine as possible.

10)  We are concerned about the overall medical negligence of people with psychosocial disabilities, who are diagnosed as ‘mentally ill’, homeless or who are living in institutions. If suspected to be ‘psychotic’, they are not given proper medical diagnostics and treatment, and their general health issues are considered to be additional symptoms of their mental illness.

11)  There are a number of countries in our region, where new laws or amendments of old laws are being proposed.  We want laws, old and new, existing and proposed, relating to disabilities or general laws, applying on us to be fully compliant with the CRPD.

12)  Living independently is a larger social and gendered construct in the Asian region. We need to address that through larger debate on its impact of people with psychosocial disabilities.

13)  Violence against people with psychosocial disabilities and issues of safety, especially for vulnerable populations like women and children, will be a priority for the strategy group.

14)  Within larger Development agendas and goals for the region, the strategy group will highlight the demand for equal and equitable distribution of resources to promote and protect of PPSD in the Asian region from the government and international community, donors and multilateral development agencies and business communities (MDGs, post-2015 Development agenda, World Bank, etc.).

15)  We understand the full political map of players who are within our action map and our individual engagements with various groups: They include the various medical and medical-cultural groups active in the region; the World Health Organisation and its different departments; cross-national human rights institutions active in the region; worldwide organizations on social innovations, psychosocial interventions and alternatives; the world and regional networks of users and survivors of psychiatry; bi-lateral aid agencies; and finally, cross disability alliances representing people with disabilities regionally and worldwide. In terms of who we will dialogue with among these players, the door is open. We engage and dialogue with everybody.

16)  We need better internal organisation and communication to prepare for any political intervention as a group. We will work at an appropriate time in future, towards the creation of a movement for persons with psychosocial disabilities in the Asian region. That is not our present priority.

17)   As a strategy group, we need to educate and skill ourselves in learning about global alternatives to give support and care to people in extreme states.

18)  We need to brainstorm on one or more legal strategies which will start a support system in place when in extreme state.

[i] The program was organized by the Bapu Trust for Research on Mind & Discourse; supported by the Foundation of the Open Society Institute and co-hosted by Holiday Inn, Hinjewadi, Pune. The “Vision and strategy for Transforming Communities for Inclusion” idea was conceived of through the period of the TOTAL trainings, in many conversations and the Pune peer learning workshop was eventually facilitated by Bhargavi Davar and Alexandre Cote. This document was edited by Bhargavi Davar and Jagannath Lamichhane.

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