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The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A New Approach to Decision-Making in Mental Health Law

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Abstract The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) requires us to engage in new approaches to decision-making in mental health law. The reclassification of mental health rights to the realm of disability rights is an important step towards equal treatment for persons with psychosocial disabilities. Law reformers worldwide are beginning to consider the implications of the provisions. Legislators will be required to understand the underlying philosophy of the CRPD to realise the rights set out in it. The CRPD possesses a number of innovative provisions which can transform decision-making in the mental health context. Article 12 provides a new conceptualisation of persons with disabilities and their capacity to participate by requiring support to exercise legal capacity. While good practice exists, the provision has yet to be fully implemented by many State Parties. This article discusses the impact of the CRPD on mental health law, legal capacity law and describes examples of supported decision-making models for mental health care.

Affiliations: 1: National University of Ireland Galway Galway Athlone Institute of Technology Athlone, Co Westmeath Ireland


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