No psychiatric asylums by 2020 is possible

Joint statement by the Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), the Asociación por los Derechos en Salud Mental (ADESAM) and CELS.

ACIJ, CELS and ADESAM met today, on behalf of the group of organizations in defense of the National Mental Health and Addictions Law No. 26.657/10, with the National Mental Health Director, Dr. André Blake. The meeting with Dr. Blake, the authority in charge of applying said Law, was to learn about the progress made in public mental health policy and that organization’s position with regard to the National Review Board, in light of versions that announced proposed modifications to the Law.

Among the issues addressed, the director informed that the plan to carry out the process of de-institutionalization imposed by the Law includes taking a census of the number of people institutionalized, which will be done in 2017, in conjunction with the INDEC (National Statistics and Census Institute). Based on the findings, they will define a universal coverage plan through certification of disability for all persons in these establishments, enabling them to gain access to assisted housing, which will be incorporated as part of the Obligatory Medical Plan’s provisions.

With this plan, André Blake assured that, even if the number of persons institutionalized reaches 50,000 – the maximum number estimated – the deadline of 2020 to implement the de-institutionalization process is possible. And he affirmed, in line the paradigm of the Law, that psychiatric asylums must not exist.

Moreover, he agreed that the National Review Board is a structural part of the Law, and that it must function independently to protect the rights of the persons to whom it applies.

Finally, he said that proposals for modifications to Decree 603/13 of the Mental Health Law had been submitted from diverse sectors, but asserted that a reform of these characteristics is not part of the political agenda.