The Psychiatric rehabilitation law in Israel

28 02 2012

In the past decades there have been substantial changes in the Israeli mental health field in general, and in the community based psychiatric rehabilitation in particular. These changes occurred both in policy making level and in practice level. Since 2001 the Israeli Ministry of Health has been in the process of developing community based psychiatric rehabilitation services as part of the implementation of the Rehabilitation in the Community of People with a Psychiatric Disability Law or “Psychiatric Rehabilitation Law”.

This law combines the rights of people with disability and the rights to dignity and liberty– in the psychiatric rehabilitation field prospective. The main goal of this law is “to work diligently for the rehabilitation and social inclusion of people with a psychiatric disability in order to allow them to achieve the maxim amount of independence and quality of life, while keeping their dignity according to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty” (2000).  Furthermore, this law emphasizes the importance of social inclusion of people with psychiatric disabilities as part of the rehabilitation process; and stated that all Israelis with a psychiatric disability will enjoy the right for community based psychiatric rehabilitation services provided by the country.

Nonetheless, while there are many developments in research and practice in this field in Israel, there are still many barriers that slow down the positive progresses in this field: the medical model approach is still dominant in policy and in budgets; the shift from the “protected” rehabilitation approach that encourages low functioning and social exclusion to “empowered” approach that encourages high functioning and social inclusion is slow; the passage from paternalistic attitude from many sectors in the system to a more self-definition attitude for the consumers and therapeutic practices and social attitude that maintain mental illness stigma and discrimination are still common; and still many people do not have access to psychiatric rehabilitation services.

For more information read these recent papers by Aviram, Ginat and Roe and by Drake, Hogan, Slade and Thornicroft.

For questions, clarifications and any other inquiries about this issue please feel free to contact me.

Have a great day!




3 responses

28 02 2012

Sounds like what they tried and are trying to do in the US. Good luck. Here in the US the outcome has been mixed, with too many hospitals closing and nowhere for the seriously mentally ill to go, except jails or homeless on the streets. The problem was–and continues to be–lack of funds. Money that was supposed to go to communities did not, leaving people, particularly those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder floundering. My state (New Hampshire), which was once a model for the US, is not at the bottom for reasons I’ve described and currently has a class-action suit filed agaist it.

28 02 2012

Thanks indeed for your note. I totaly agree and tried to write about it in the post:

29 02 2012

There’s no doubt that the Community Rehabilitation Act that was legislated in Israel is a cause for pride. It puts us in the top ranks of countries in psychiatric rehab.
It is my understanding that, at least in principle, the Treasury Ministry can at any time try to legislate the unrolling of the Law for purposes of budget cutbacks.
However, we’ve seen wall-to-wall cooperation and demonstrations, on the part of MH consumers, family members and rehab professionals, the last time this happened (I believe in 2006). People were out demonstrating, making their voices heard. I believe this new mental health coaliton will continue its activity here.
In a world where our country is targeted daily for criticism, the Community Rehabilitation Act shines the light on the Israel most people never see.

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