Advocating for the rights of persons with psycho-social disability in a context of poverty and lack mental health services

For the past 12 months a new organization of mental health users (Associacao Mocambicana de Usuarios de Saude Mental - AMUSAM) is leading an advocacy work in Mozambique to fight social and legal barriers that hinder the full and equal participation of persons with psychosocial disabilities. This is the first occasion that mental health users’ conduct themselves an advocacy work in Mozambique.

After this period we can celebrate some achievements such as the consciousness of their human rights among mental health users, the rupture of some stereotypes leading to neglecting and discrimination of persons with psychosocial disability and also the introduction of a human rights view on the issues related to mental health in Mozambique. However we are now also aware of the great challenges to face in other to build an inclusive and respectful society for persons with psycho-social disability, specifically:

  • How can we mainstream mental health user’s rights issues in the national agenda?
  • How can we make sure that poverty does not hinder this group to enjoy their basic rights and access justice?
  • How can we reduce violence against persons with psycho-social disabilities in the community and institutions?

I hope to get good suggestions from Global Legal Empowerment Network community. :thinking:


Hello @clodoaldo!

I’m sure other people will have more ideas specific to the context in Mozambique in response to your questions, but I just wanted to pass along the name of an organization in the US that I think has done great work here on disability justice. The Bazelon Center on Mental Health Law has some great resources on advocacy for progressive law reform and policy change on mental health. You may have come across them already, and the social, economic and legal contexts of the USA and Mozambique are obviously very different, but some of the ways in which the Bazelon Center advocates for change are truly inspiring to me, and may be to AMUSAM too.



@asthasp many thanks for your contribution. I’ve just gone through The Bazelon Center on Mental Health Law resources and it was just amazing. Although it’s a pretty different reality some scientific findings they bring are universal and it’ll surely strengthen our advocacy work. I will go on exploring their resources. Thank you


It is really unfortunate that this group of people with psycho-social disability face all kinds of human rights violations, including social stigma by the community and their families, as well as the discrimination when they need to access the social services, including health, education, shelter,/housing water. Many countries in Africa, including Mozambique, are part to the Sustainable Millenium Goal (SDGs) and are part to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

  1. To mainstream mental health in the national agenda, there is need to empower people with disability in general, and those with psycho-social disability to be able to participate meaningfully to the Design, develop, implement and monitor implementation of the governmental processes, including the development plan, SDG, etc.
  2. if this point (1) doesn’t work, remember, Human rights have multiple roles - Human rights are versatile and can play a variety of roles in the struggle for social justice. For example, they can be operational (ensures that human rights shape laws, regulations, policies, programmes, practices, and grassroots initiatives) or judicial- confrontational. The community may decide to the public interest litigation (PIL). All these roles are complementary. The confrontational approach unfortunately, at some point, needs to be tested and it needs basic evidence collection and coalition building to ensure there is community and media support!
  3. the 2 points are instrumental to reduce violence among this group. The operational and/or judicial) are key to reduce violence in this stigmatized and socially excluded community,

Emmanuel Kamonyo


Thank you very much for this very informed contribution. It has brought to my attention key elements such as the empowerment of people with psycho-social disabilities in the implementation of the issues that concern them, and the use of different human rights roles in the pursuit of social justice. As you have emphasized, I agree that it is fundamental to gain the sympathy of some social forces to advance this cause. Thank you very much, I am very impressed by the level of contribution. If you can, I’d appreciate it if you shared the link of your organization.

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