A third of UN member states don’t permit people with mental illness the right to vote or marry

On World Mind Matters Day 2016, a global survey funded by the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), of laws and policies in 193 United Nations (UN) member states revealed the level of discrimination faced by people with mental illness in the areas of marriage, voting rights employment and right to contract. The survey results were included in the ‘Social Justice for People with Mental Illness’ report published in the International Review of Psychiatry1 and concluded that:

  • 37 per cent of countries prohibit marriage by people with mental health problems
    • In 11 per cent of countries, mental problems can render a marriage void or can be considered grounds for annulling a marriage
  • In 36 per cent of countries, people with mental health problems are not allowed to vote
  • In nearly a quarter of countries, there are no laws preventing discrimination in the recruitment of people with mental health problems.
  • In over half of countries, there is no explicit protection in laws against dismissal/termination/suspension of employment on grounds of health reasons including mental health problems
  • 38 per cent of countries deny right to contract to persons with mental health problems
    • 42 per cent do not recognize the right of people with mental health problems to write their own will and testament

The findings led the WPA to create a Bill of Rights for Individuals with Mental Illness which urges ALL governments to ensure that persons with mental illness/mental disability/mental health problems are not discriminated against based on their mental health status, and are treated as full citizens enjoying all rights on an equal basis with others.

The ‘Social Justice for People with Mental Illness’ report and ‘Bill of Rights for Individuals with Mental Illness’ can be viewed at

A series of public information films on mental issues that aim to increase awareness and reduce stigma surrounding these issues has also been created. These can be viewed at:

1- WPA Mind Matters: Message on Short Films On Mental Health

2- WPA Mind Matters: See The Person - Beyond The Labels

3- WPA Mind Matters: Beneath the Masks

4- WPA Mind Matters: Depression

5- WPA Mind Matters: Mental Health For All

Information for press
To download the press release around the WPA’s global survey click here.
To download the ‘Bill of Rights for Individuals with Mental Illness’, click here.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a member of the WPA Executive Committee, please contact:
[1] Bhugra D et al. Social Justice for People with Mental Illness. International Review of Psychiatry, 2016 vol. 28, No. 4, 335-419. Available at Last accessed August 2016