On a global scale, information and connectedness is equally important, especially when it comes to topics like mental health policies and laws which may affect case management.
Better access to information seems to have been the impetus behind the World Health Organization’s new MiNDbank project, which went live online Dec. 10, 2013 – Human Rights Day. MiNDbank offers visitors an enormous database of information about topics ranging from mental health and substance abuse to disability or human rights. Most impressively, it covers these topics across a range of countries and provides visitors with important international documents and information.
According to WHO, MiNDbank is part of the organization’s QualityRights initiative, which aims to end human rights violations against those living with mental illness or other conditions. WHO noted that mental health facilities in many countries offer poor quality of care, which in turn prevents or slows recovery. In the worst situations, patients with mental illness may simply be locked away in prison-like circumstances, where they have limited human contact.
One of the goals of MiNDbank is to address these humanitarian issues and change the way mental health is viewed.
“People with mental disabilities still face discrimination, violence and abuse in all countries,” said Michelle Funk, M.D., of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “The easy-to-use platform was established as a tool to facilitate debate, dialogue, advocacy and research on mental health, to improve care and to promote human rights across the globe.”
The database itself, which WHO created with the aid of a number of partners, offers a range of services and information. Its primary purpose is to be an international single point of access to a vast and comprehensive source of information. This allows countries to share best practices for mental health, substance abuse, disability, general health or even human rights and development. But it will also work to bind each of these areas together, promoting greater parity between all the conditions and inexorably tying mental and general health to the state of human rights in international countries. The initiative also aims to reduce the amount of incomplete or unnecessarily duplicated information out there – much like mental health EHR software aims to reduce repeat tests and procedures.
Of course, MiNDbank is an enormous academic undertaking, and the primary beneficiaries of what it offers may be researchers hoping to advance mental health studies and other industries through their work.
Across the board, however, MiNDbank promotes advocacy for those with mental illness, disability or specific needs. To that end, it’s intended for an audience as wide as its resources: policy makers and planners, legislators, human rights advocates, non-governmental organizations, clinicians and educators among others.
WHO reported that MiNDbank resources include:
• National mental health policies, strategies and laws
• National substance abuse policies, strategies and laws
• National disability related policies, strategies and laws
• National general health policies, strategies and laws
• National constitutions, human rights and child rights laws
• National poverty reduction and development strategies
• Health and mental health service standards
• International and regional human rights conventions and treaties
• Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities member states reports, shadow reports and concluding observations
• U.N. special “rapporteurs” reports
• WHO resources
• U.N. and WHO resolutions
Using MiNDbank as the epicenter of mental health and human rights policy is a major step toward a more coordinated world, attempting to provide some of the benefits of mental health EHRs and care coordination on a global scale.
Already, more than 160 countries have gotten involved, sharing their own mental health information and reports on MiNDbank. Future updates and database growth show promise.
“If a government, for example, wishes to develop a new mental health policy in line with international human rights standards it can – on the new platform – quickly get an overview about the policies of other countries and benefit from their experiences and an array of international guidance tools and resources,” said Nathalie Drew, WHO technical officer.
Visit the MiNDbank and browse resource by country or topic, or run search through the system. MiNDbank supports a variety of languages, from English to Urdu.