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A human rights-based approach improves the mental health care for migrants

Journal article
Authors E. Envall
G. Backman
Henry Ascher
B. Ramel
E. Ryman
Published in Läkartidningen
Volume 117
ISSN 1652-7518
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Language sv
Subject categories Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


The increasing number of displaced persons and the high proportion of refugees with traumatic background and psychiatric symptoms affect the mental health care offered. Sweden has been criticized by the United Nations for the unsatisfactory fulfilment of the right to health for migrants. This article on human rights in mental health care practice, with a focus on migrants, describes the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and what this right implies for mental health care services, including the responsibilities of medical staff. The right to a dignified and equal treatment, integrity and participation is required by medical ethics and legislation, but is ultimately also a matter of human rights. The importance of social determinants for health, the right to individually adapted information and participation are discussed. The argued discrimination of undocumented migrants and other patients is exemplified. A human rights-based approach, HRBA, improves the mental health care for migrants by increased participation and empowerment of the rights-holders, and can contribute to realizing the human rights in a transcultural mental health care context. A model for implementation of HRBA methods is introduced.

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