PAHO organizes QualityRights workshop for mental health professionals in the Caribbean to enhance capacity from a human-rights approach

Photo of the group of participants on the workshop on QualityRights, shown standing in three rows at the door of a building
Catalina Ortuzar-Lyon / PAHO

Bridgetown, Barbados, 7 May, 2024.- A total of 30 mental health professionals from 18 Caribbean countries and territories are participating from 7 to 10 May on the first Caribbean-focused QualityRights workshop, aiming to catalyze positive changes in mental health services across the Caribbean.  QualityRights is World Health Organization (WHO) global initiative to improve the quality of care provided by mental health and social services and promote the human rights of people with mental health conditions and psychosocial, intellectual, or cognitive disabilities. It offers a new approach to mental health care which is rights-based and recovery-oriented.

The training of trainers workshop has been organized by the PAHO Department on Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health and the Subregional Coordination Program for the Caribbean utilizing the Quality Rights framework to train mental health professionals and stakeholders to become leaders and advocates in their local contexts. Among the participants, several of them are directors of psychiatric hospitals, psychiatrists, persons with lived experience, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners psychologists, counselors, social workers,  and advocacy organizations. Prior to attending this training, the participants completed the WHO-QR E-training, which provides opportunity to get an exposure to various components of rights and recovery based mental health services. 

About WHO QualityRights Initiative

Strong leadership and good governance for mental health are the foundation for establishing and supporting effective, sustainable, and equitable mental health systems and services. Good governance should include the design and implementation of national policies, and laws for mental health and substance use that are evidence-based and aligned with international human rights instruments.

Unfortunately, poor-quality care and human rights violations are common in mental health services globally. Reports in many countries have highlighted considerable violence, abuse, and coercion occurring in these settings, which include forced admission and treatment as well as the use of seclusion and restraint.

QualityRights is an innovative, evidence-based framework by the World Health Organization to improve quality of mental health services with a rights-based approach. QualityRights aims to improve existing mental health services by reorienting services from a purely biomedical approach to a holistic, comprehensive, and participatory approach that values and places emphasis on empowerment, autonomy, recovery, and an integration into the family and community.

Dr. Taraleen Malcom, welcomed the cohort on behalf of Dr. Amalia Del Riego, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries: “As we embark on this training, we are not only seeking to build capacity but also to foster a new mindset where respect, dignity, and advocacy replace stigma and discrimination. This training is a critical step forward in our commitment to upholding the highest standards of human rights in mental health and empowering those affected by mental health conditions.”

PAHO / WHO Subregional Programme Director, Caribbean, Mr. Dean Chambliss stated:  “This initiative challenges us to rethink traditional approaches and to adopt a model of care that is both rights-based and recovery-oriented. It asks us to see beyond the status quo and to implement practices that truly respect the rights and meet the needs of individuals.”

Dr Renato Oliveira, Unit Chief of Mental Health, highlighted the link between this workshop and the equity-and rights-based approach of the new strategy for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and with the recommendation number four ( 4 ) focused on ensuring the human rights of people living with mental health conditions from the report of the New Agenda for Mental Health in the Americas developed by the High-level Commission on Mental Health and COVID-19.

The specific objectives of the workshop are:

  1. Capacity Building: Empower participants to adopt a rights-based approach to mental health care, emphasizing recovery, legal capacity, and freedom from coercion.
  2. Policy Awareness: Enhance awareness of mental health laws and policies in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
  3. Ongoing Training: Encourage continuous professional development and knowledge-sharing among mental health care professionals.
  4. Strategic Insights: Inform future strategies and implementation pathways for countries based on insights gained from QualityRights training.
  5. Collaborative Approach: Foster collaboration among stakeholders to drive improvements in mental health services, laws, and policies.

Photo Gallery