According to the European Convention of Human Rights Article 8 ‘The right to respect for a person’s private and family life’ in respect for the purposes of this article, means an action that would not result in any violation of the right to family life.
In 2013 the European Court of Human rights rulled the case of B against Romania. Complainant, a mother of three, is a person in need of psychosocial care. After B was deprived of her parental rights and placed in an institution for people with disabilities, she was trying to compel state to respect her family life. However, despite B’s efforts, Romanian government didn’t take into consideration complainant’s legitimate demand and didn’t ensure that mother and her three children stayed together as a family.
This problem concerns many women with psychosocial disabilities in Georgia. Government fully neglects person’s right to respect their family life and the state’s attitude is indifferent to this issue. In addition to this, society is stereotypical towards women in need of psychosocial assistence, they perceive them as unable of taking care of their own children and inadequately participating in their upbringing.
‘Partnership for human rights’ (PHR) is currently investigating a case of a woman with psychosocial disabilities, who I’ll call Eka for maintaining her confidentiality. Eka has a young child. The child was taken away shortly after birth. I tried to use some other words to justify state actions, however the fact is that the child was forcefully taken away from her. The child was deprived of her mother, as right after mother living in institution gave birth. Head of the institution urged her to sign a document stating that she refuses to care for the child and agrees to place her at the Child Institution. Temporary placement lasted for several years and mother has never lived with her child since then.
Eka lives in one of the institutions and whenever she has an opportunity with the help of the administration manages to visit her child. One could observe from their conversations, that the mother has a desire to care for her child and to participate in his upbringing. We received Eka’s statement, in which she calls for our help, in order for her to be able to live with her child, either in in the institutions in which she lives in or outside in the community.
Constitution of Georgia and The Civil Code, both call for the respect of one’s family life. The state is obliged to ensure that the child and the mother live together.
The European Court of Human Rights, on the case of B against Romania, identified infringement of both the mother and children’s right to family life, as children have the right to live with their parents and be brought up in a family.
In developed countries, there are plenty of programs, that helps women with psychosocial disabilities, in order for them to be able to cope with the challenges, which they face. Non-profit organizations are usually the service providers and supporters of the programs outlined above, while the government supports them. These services help women with psychosocial disabilities to live with their children and to participate in their upbringing. Services, which are offered to the families by organizations, are focused on their needs, which are evaluated by the social worker. It is important to note that, in all the countries mentioned below for the parents with psychosocial disabilities there is wide range of services available.
There are many organizations in Canada that offer a variety of services to parents with psychosocial needs. ‘The Canadian Mental Health Association’ conducts trainings for parents, with programs, such as ‘Equal support – family for families’ and others. ‘Ontario Society of Schizophrenia’ insures 24-hour consultancy, via phone or internet. One of most important programs, which they have is a 4-week family strengthening program, which includes Individual counseling, Family counseling, Family support groups and Peer-support. Organization ‘Family Outreach and Response’ offers families one year program, which includes several courses: The Family Mental Health Recovery Series, HASTE- Help and Support Through Education, Supporting Someone Through a ‘First Break’ and Managing The Dark Emotions, Understanding The Family Role When People Appear Unmotivated, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Families, Wellness and Recovery Action Planning Groups, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Groups.
In the United States, services are classified according to the living place, as different state’s government is responsible for offering different types of services. For example, in Atlanta, there is an available service of ‘family teacher,’ which with the group of professionals helps family members to overcome various obstacles and challenges.
Australia specializes in supporting women with mental health problems, as potential mothers. They provide information and educational programs, via email or face to face. Organization, which has the most solid base of expertise, is ‘Children of parents with a Mental Illness.’ Their web page provides readers with a wide range of useful information about the challenges which mothers face and the public services, which are available to them. Organization ‘Parentline’ insures 24-hour phone consultancy for parents everyday, which includes expertise from a team of professionals.
Based on everything outlined above, we conclude that women in need of psychosocial help are able to take care of their children and to participate in their upbringing, if the government supports them and creates equal opportunities for all parents.
PHR continues investigating and providing legal services to women in need of psychosocial help and the ones placed in the mental health centers. From September 2013, with the support of European Union PHR has been implementing a project ‘Mainstreaming Disability into National Action against Gender Based Violence.’ Also, from April 2014 the project ‘Protecting women from violence in psychiatric hospitals and women who are in needs of psycho-social help’ which is funded by Women’s Fund in Georgia.’