There has been increased global concern about the human rights violations experienced by people with mental disorders. The aim of this study was to analyse Uganda's mental health care system through a human rights lens. A survey of the existing mental health system in Uganda was conducted using the WHO Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems. In addition, 62 interviews and six focus groups were conducted with a broad range of mental health stakeholders at the national and district levels. Despite possessing a draft mental health policy that is in line with many international human rights standards, Uganda's mental health system inadequately promotes and protects, and frequently violates the human rights of people with mental disorders. The mental health legislation is offensive and stigmatizing. It is common for people accessing mental health services to encounter physical and emotional abuse and an inadequate quality of care. Mental health services are inequitably distributed. Within Ugandan society, people with mental disorders also frequently experience widespread stigma and discrimination, and limited support. Promoting and protecting the rights of people with mental disorders has ethical and public health imperatives. A number of policy, legislative and service development initiatives are required.
International Review of Psychiatry (2010) 22 (6) 578–588 [doi:10.3109/09540261.2010.536151]