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Can a human right to good mental health be justified?

Bielby, Phil

Authors



Abstract

Can a human right to good mental health be justified? This is an under-explored question: until recently, rights in relation to mental health have been framed and debated primarily in terms of their relevance to psychosocial disability and mental ill-health/mental distress. By contrast, in this article, I propose the basis of a normative justification for a population-wide right to good mental health, focusing in particular on individuals who do not experience mental ill-health/distress or do not have (or may never have) a psychiatric diagnosis or a psychosocial disability. The article is structured into three parts. First, I will outline the emergence of a population-wide right to good mental health in mental health discourse, led by recent reports published by the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Danius Pūras. I will then go on to explore what we might understand by ‘good mental health’. Finally, I will explain how a right to good mental health may be justified, drawing on insights from compassion, ‘vulnerable agency’ and James Wilson’s account of “a right to public health”. I then respond to feasibility and demandingness concerns about such a right, which together inform the basis of the qualified public health right to good mental health I propose.

Citation

Bielby, P. (online). Can a human right to good mental health be justified?. Bioethics, https://doi.org/10.1111/bioe.13329

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 9, 2024
Online Publication Date Jul 4, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 8, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 5, 2026
Journal Bioethics
Print ISSN 0269-9702
Electronic ISSN 1467-8519
Publisher John Wiley and Sons
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/bioe.13329
Keywords Compassion; Good mental health; Human right; Public health
Public URL https://hull-repository.worktribe.com/output/4708604