Mental health, human rights and standards of care: Assessment of the quality of institutional care for adults with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities in the WHO European Region

The WHO project on adults with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities living in institutions in the WHO European Region targets a highly marginalized, vulnerable group whose quality of life, human rights and reinclusion in society are seriously compromised by outdated, often inhumane institutional practices. 

The specific objectives of the project were to address gaps in knowledge about the number and characteristics of such long-term institutions and to identify deficiencies in current care standards through the lens of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The findings reveal and confirm that long-term institutional care for people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities in many European countries is far below the standard. A significant proportion of the assessed institutions were violating the fundamental rights of people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, including their legal capacity, autonomy, dignity, liberty and security of person, physical and mental integrity and freedom from torture and ill treatment and from exploitation, violence and abuse. Some of the most egregious violations reported were: use of mechanical and pharmacological restraints to manage difficult behaviour, a culture of impunity with regard to reported cases of sexual abuse, numerous irregularities concerning informed consent, discrimination and barriers to access to high-quality care for general and reproductive health, lack of alternative or complementary mental health treatment options and a general lack of opportunities for meaningful daily activities within or outside the institutions.

See the full report and recommendations here:


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