On December 11-12, 2019, Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor conducted atraining in Aghveran in the topic “The rights of persons with mental health problems: human rights, prevention of ill-treatment and discrimination”. Representatives of psychiatric institutions from Gegharkunik, Shirak, Syuik and Lori regions, as well as from Yerevan took part in the training.
The training was aimed at raising awareness level on human rights, equality and prevention of discrimination, ill-treatment, rights and problems of persons with mental health problems, among the circle of employees who daily deal with persons with mental health problems. All this was considered in the context of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Syunik Regional Neuropsychiatric Dispensary on-duty nurse Satine Voskanyan has worked in the institution for a long time and cannot recall such a training held before. For the first time, she had been participating in the training organized by HCA Vanadzor and found it very important especially for those who work in regions. Besides the exchange of experience, the training is also the best variant to familiarize with the ongoing changes in the sphere, “Before this, I wasn’t familiar with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It’s good that Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor organizes such trainings. I would like the state to pay attention not only to persons with mental health problems, but also to employees of psychiatric institutions who are neglected. We do not get a normal salary. We don’t have a separate toilet. I wish employees were more secured. I wish the dispensary conditions were better so that society acceptpersons with mental health problems the way they are and so that those persons not be persecuted and ignored”.
Armenuhi Khachatryan is from Gyumri Mental Health center. She is a senior nurse. She says that by considering persons with mental health problems as rightful members of society, they try to practically apply everything enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She touches upon the use of terms, “They will help us to use right words and formulations with our patients from now on and avoid discriminatory treatment. Most of all, I would prefer the rights of persons with mental health problems not to be violated by their families, relatives”.
This training was a discovery for Sevan Mental Health Center sanitary assistant Karen Hayrapetyan. He finds it important not only from the perspective of legal awareness, but also for the inclusion of persons with mental health problems in society. They should not be left neglected, “I will transfer whatever I heard and learnt during this training to my colleagues”.
Speaking about the training topics and participants’ interests, trainer Ara Ghazaryan states, “Work should be conducted with a certain group for a long time, this is the right attitude. The priority goal of such trainings is transferring not the knowledge, but rather, the skills. And the ultimate goal of skills is the change of attitude: the attitude to human rights changes and this amounts to a value which they transfer to others. The topics were chosen in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the main concepts presented are antidiscrimination, legal competence, accessibility, perception of persons with disabilities”.
The right of persons with disabilities to live independently and be involved in community was particularly stressed at the training. Psychiatric institution employees confirmed that their role is great in both securing this right and conducting the deinstitutionalization process without jolts. An audiovisual material on community mental health center founded in 2016 with the funding from Open Society Foundations was shown. At the end of the video, training participants stated that they would promote the right of persons with mental health problems to live independently and be involved in community.
Photos available HERE