Joint Explanation of Position at the adoption of a GA Resolution; “Mental Health and psychosocial support for substantiable development and peace”

Sofija Korac
ECOSOC Adviser
New York, New York
June 26, 2023


Thank you President.

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and my own country, the United States.

We are pleased to co-sponsor and in my country’s case, join consensus on the resolution entitled ‘Mental health and psychosocial support for sustainable development and peace’, which is the first resolution to address mental health adopted by the UN General Assembly. We would like to extend our thanks to Mexico and members of the core group for their leadership on this important initiative that builds on recent resolutions of the Human Rights Council.

Psychosocial disabilities are a natural part of the human experience, reflecting the beautiful diversity that exists within our society. However, far too often, individuals who possess psychosocial disabilities face a wide range of human rights violations and abuses, including even arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of liberty, disability-based institutionalization and other coercive and harmful practices.

For decades, an insufficient amount of attention has been devoted to mental health and psychosocial support services and systems. Too often, efforts have been centred around a medical model of disability, resulting in the dominance of approaches that favour biomedical intervention, medicalization, and institutionalization.

It is incumbent upon us to recognize that discrimination and coercive treatment are not the appropriate responses to psychosocial disabilities. A psychosocial disability should not be described as a ‘disorder’. We must embrace an inclusive approach that promotes understanding, acceptance, and support, with full respect for the mental integrity of all persons, in all their diversity. We appreciate that this important resolution embraces this approach and rejects an outdated model that sees psychosocial disabilities as a problem that should be clinically defined and treated – a model that we have seen can lead to grave human rights violations.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities laid the foundation for a paradigm shift on mental health. We are grateful that the resolution presented here today acknowledges this shift, building on the momentum for deinstitutionalization and models of care that address underlying determinants of mental health, provide effective community-based mental health services and psychosocial support, reduce power asymmetries in mental health settings and respect the enjoyment of autonomy of persons with psychosocial disabilities on an equal basis with others.

We are particularly pleased that this resolution follows the path laid out by Special Rapporteur Dainius Puras in his landmark report on Mental Health in 2017 and the lead of the Human Rights Council, including in its most recent resolution on the subject, A/HRC/RES/52/12. It was critically important that the resolution aligned with the principles of the CRPD and recognized the need for a human rights-based approach.

We reiterate that mental health and wellbeing cannot be defined by the absence of psychosocial disabilities, but rather by an environment that enables individuals and populations to live a life of dignity, with full enjoyment of their rights.

We therefore call on all Member States to take this resolution forward through community-, evidence- and human rights-based services and support that respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights, autonomy, will and preferences of persons with psychosocial disabilities.

Mr. President,

We would like to reiterate the central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda to Leave No One Behind. We remain deeply concerned that Indigenous Peoples often experience disproportionate levels of psychosocial distress and suicide. We are pleased that this resolution acknowledges the need to support a holistic approach to social and emotional wellbeing for Indigenous Peoples, including through connections to land, culture, spirituality, and ancestry.

We also underscore that women and girls with psychosocial disabilities, in all their diversity, face an increased vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence, abuse, discrimination, and negative stereotyping. Furthermore, women and girls with psychosocial disabilities often face environmental, attitudinal, and institutional barriers that deny their sexual and reproductive health and rights. We call on Member States to take all appropriate measures to ensure access to gender-responsive mental health and psychosocial support services, including in situations of armed conflict and humanitarian emergencies.

We would have also liked to see this resolution address the common and unique barriers faced by LGBTI persons, including multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. Evidence shows that persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities face disparities in terms of their mental health and are at increased risk of violence and abuse, including in medical settings. We reiterate the call of the United Nations LGBTI Core Group for adoption and implementation of the WHO recommendations on an equity-focused and human rights-based approach to the health and wellbeing of LGBTI persons.

Finally, we extend our thanks to Mexico for its co-facilitation of this process. This resolution is an important step in the application of a social and rights-based model of psychosocial disability and mental health. We thank Member States, the UN System, and other stakeholders for their efforts in this regard, while also recognizing that we still have a long way to go. We call on all Member States to implement the resolution, and we call on all stakeholders to ensure that mental health and psychosocial support remains a key global priority.

Thank you, Mr. President.