Ursula M. Read
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‘Clearing the streets’
Enacting human rights in mental health care in Ghana
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The removal of vagrant lunatics from the streets of African cities has a long history in the context of colonial and postcolonial urbanization. However, the emergence of rights-based approaches to mental illness as part of the growing influence of global mental health in Ghana has led to a reframing of this historical legacy within the context of mental health reform. The continued practice of forcibly removing persons with mental illness for treatment within the psychiatric hospitals aims to appease public concerns over growing homelessness among mentally ill persons. At the same time it is also deployed as evidence of efforts to enact new mental health legislation to international agencies. This case illustrates the entanglements and tensions arising from attempts to enact mental health reform in a way which resonates both with international psychiatric practice and human rights and with local expectations of social order and development.

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