International Diploma in Mental Health, Human Rights & Law

The International Diploma in Mental Health, Human Rights & Law was launched in October 2008 and is conducted by the Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy at the Indian Law Society, Pune, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, Geneva.

This is a one-year Diploma programme that draws its fundamentals from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and provides guidance on its implications in relation to mental health legislation, policy, services, and practice.

The Diploma aims to impart appropriate knowledge and information on the role of the legislation in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities, as well as how mental health policy and services can work to improve human rights standards within the sector.

Upon completion of the Diploma programme, students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to actively support their countries in drafting, amending, and implementing mental health laws and policies, in line with the UNCRPD and other international standards.

The International Diploma has completed 14 batches so far with 217 participants enrolled from 70 countries.

We are delighted to announce that from this year (2023 – 2024), our Residential Sessions in Pune are back. Applications are now open!

Last date to apply: 15 August 2023

Eligibility and Entry Requirements

The Diploma is ideal for mid-career professionals from the fields of law, human rights, mental health policy, and service-delivery.

Entry requirements

  • Minimum graduate qualification from a recognised university in any of the following subjects: law, medicine or psychiatry, nursing, psychology, social work, social science, natural science.
  • We encourage individuals with psychosocial disabilities and their caregivers/ families to enrol as they are critical players in reform, and can be effective advocates for change. The minimum qualification for such applications is a graduate qualification in any discipline from a recognised university.
  • The selection of students is based on their experience, and statement of purpose.
  • Priority is given to students who are likely to have an impact on the field of human rights for people with psychosocial disabilities and law/policy in their respective countries.
Learning Outcomes

The Diploma programme addresses human rights, mental health law, policy, services, social determinants of mental health and its interplay with human rights.

Over the duration of one year, participants will

Develop an understanding of:

  1. The international human rights framework as it relates to people with psychosocial disabilities, including the UNCRPD.
  2. The issues around the right to exercise legal capacity, the right to liberty and security of a person, and the right to informed consent.
  3. Mental health policy, service organisations and their relationship with the mental health legislation.
  4. How the mental health legislation can promote the right to health, the right to live independently and be included in the community, and improve access to affordable and quality mental health care.
  5. Specific topics like children’s mental health, humanitarian crisis, homelessness, gender, criminal law from the perspective of human rights.

Develop the ability to:

  1. Draft, adopt, and enact mental health legislation, policy, and services.
  2. Monitor the implementation of mental health legislation, policy, and services.
  3. Advocate for protecting and promoting human rights for people with psychosocial disabilities.
Duration and Course Structure

The International Diploma in Mental Health, Human Rights & Law is a one-year course that entails two on-site residential sessions, self-study and a final project submission.

Residential sessions: The first residential session of approximately 15 days is conducted at the start of the programme, and the second residential session of approximately 5 days is conducted at the end of the programme. These sessions are conducted at the Indian Law Society, Pune. During this period, the teaching faculty use a wide variety of teaching methods that include in-person lectures, workshops, small group discussions, learning through documentaries and presentations.

Self-study: Between the two residential sessions, students return home and are required to complete studies at the rate of one module per month, including assignments. During the self-study period, participants will have access to the open-source learning platform, Moodle. This space allows for students to easily access all programme modules and complete the quizzes and other online assignments.

Project submission: Students begin their project work after the first residential session. They are expected to invest two to three working days per month for eight to nine months to successfully complete their project. Each student is assigned an Advisor to help with the selection of a project area and provide ongoing support.

Modules and Main Topics
A basic understanding of mental health conditions and mental health care An introduction to the concepts of mental disorder and their treatments.
An introduction to basic legal concepts and systems An introduction to legal concepts and systems for students from non-legal backgrounds

The core areas of law, the nature of law and their critique

The historical and social context of law in operation

Context building: mental health and human rights The international human rights framework as it relates to people with psychosocial disabilities, including the UNCRPD.

The role of this framework in creating legal obligations on governments to promote and protect the rights of people with psychosocial disabilities.

Policy and legislative framework for mental health Mental health policy, service organisation, and their relationship to mental health legislation.
Access to mental health care The role of mental health legislation in promoting the right to health, the right to live independently and be included in the community, and improve access to quality mental health care.
Capacity, competence & Supported Decision-Making, and institution-based care The issues around the right to exercise legal capacity, the right to liberty and security of person, the right to informed consent.

These concepts in relation to service-delivery in mental health facilities, and guardianship laws.

Regulatory and review mechanisms The purpose, role, and responsibilities of regulatory and review mechanisms in the implementation of mental health legislation, policy, and service.
Criminal justice and mental health conditions The role of criminal law in promoting the rights and welfare of persons with psychosocial disabilities.
From exclusion to inclusion: rights in the community The role of civil and other legislation in promoting the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities.
Drafting, adopting, and implementing mental health legislation The key issues in drafting and enacting legislation, and the steps involved in ensuring the effective implementation of legislation.
Special topics – rights of children with mental health conditions The multidimensional effect of social determinants on the mental health of children.

Policies and programmes purported to decrease the risks of disorders and enhance protective factors.

An introduction to the UN Convention on the Human Rights of Children.

Strategies to raise the neglected field of mental health of children in service development and professional training with reference to primary prevention action.

Special topic – rights of ‘persons with psychosocial disability’ during humanitarian emergencies The specific needs of people with psychosocial disabilities during humanitarian emergencies.

International instruments to protect and promote their rights during crises.

Application Process

The online application form needs to be filled and submitted along with the following:

  • A written statement of purpose (250 words)
  • A letter from sponsoring organisation (if applicable)

Once your application is reviewed, you may further be notified to send:

  • A scanned and certified copy of your graduate/post graduate degree
  • A letter of recommendation
Fee and Funding

Tuition fee for international students: USD 5933 + 18% tax (GST) = USD 7000.

A limited number of students, of Indian origin and residing in India, will be offered a substantially reduced tuition fee.

Tuition for Indian students: INR 95,000 + 18% tax (GST) = INR 1,12,100.

Tuition fee includes access to live sessions, course material & project supervision.

Please note: We strongly encourage participants from low- and middle-income countries to apply for this course. Please let us know in your Statement of Purpose if you’d want us to consider a fee reduction for your application.

Residential Sessions

The International Diploma in Mental Health, Human Rights & Law entails two on-site residential sessions at the Indian Law Society in Pune.

The first residential session is usually in November at the start of the Diploma programme. During this residential session, students attend on-campus lectures and workshops for approximately 2 weeks.

The second residential session lasts for approximately 5 days and is at the end of the programme (the following October/ November). This session is for students to complete their projects, followed by a viva voce assessment. Students also attend an advocacy skills workshop spread over three days.

Teaching Methods and Assesments

Teaching Methods
The on-site teaching includes lectures, workshops, small group discussions, screening of documentaries, presentations by students, debates involving students and faculty and site visits.


  1. Assignments – 50% (cumulative)
  2. Project – 35%
  3. Quiz – 10% (cumulative)
  4. Viva Voce – 05%

Students must complete all the above four, i.e. assignments, projects, quizzes, and viva voce, as well as obtain a satisfactory score to be awarded the Diploma Certificate. A satisfactory score is defined as follows:

Block 1: consists of Assignments and quizzes for various modules. Students have to obtain 50% of marks for Assignments and quizzes together.

Block 2: consists of Project and Viva Voce. Students have to obtain 50% of marks for the Projects and Viva voce together.

Thus students have to pass separately in both the blocks.

Diploma with a Passing Grade: Students who obtain more than 50% marks but less than 75% of total marks will be awarded the Diploma in a passing grade.

Diploma with a Distinction Grade: Students obtaining 75% or more of total marks will be awarded the Diploma in a Distinction grade.


Examples of Past Projects
Reforming mental health legislation in the Seychelles: a service user’s perspective

To share my experience as a service user being part of a committee reforming Seychelles Mental Health Legislation, and to make recommendations about how things could have been done better from a service user perspective, and finally, to understand what would be the best way to replicate this, if it were to be done in other countries.

Project methodology: what worked and what did not
The project methodology had four key components. The establishment of the NMHAC, which I was part of; assessment of the mental health and related legislation of the Seychelles against the CRPD, which was done by our external consultant; the development and implementation of a communication strategy, which was not fully implemented; and engagement with stakeholders. We had two stakeholders meetings and I had to go through minutes and other reports and documents about the project also from documents I got while being part of the NMHAC and come up with what I wrote as a project. We had an expert on mental health legislation and an exterior manager for the project.

The Seychelles now has new mental health legislation before the Parliament that respects and protects the rights of persons with mental disability. It is not totally compliant with the CRPD in that it still allows “facilitated” admission however the major focus of the legislation is on “independent” admission. There are proper checks and balances to protect rights. The legislation has not yet been approved by Parliament and the NMHAC and other members of civil society need to be vigilant.

Comparison of primary health care provider’s attitude towards mental health conditions, HIV/AIDS, hypertension and diabetes and the integration of the management of these conditions into primary health care, Juba County, South Sudan

Mental health disorders, HIV/AIDS and NCDs are inter-connected, highly co-morbid, share important pathways to disease and risk factors. The WHO thus, recommends the management of those conditions to be integrated into primary health care. Negative provider’s attitudes can potentially impede integration efforts therefore, denying service users right to access health services contrary to provisions in International Human Rights Charters. Documentation of attitudes of care providers towards those conditions and integration can inform policy makers on adaptation of guidelines for management of those conditions as well as guide the process of integration.

To examine attitude and associated socio-demographic factors of care providers towards service users with mental health disorders, HIV/AIDS and NCDs and the integration of their management into primary health care as well as relate whether the provider’s views promote provisions of International Human Rights Charters.

Using convenience sampling, a total of 10 primary health centers in Jubek Country, South Sudan were selected as study sites. During August, 2018, we systematically approached and interviewed service providers more likely to be involved in the continuum of patient care such as nurses and clinical officers by administering a questionnaire.

Of 140 service providers interviewed, responses of 134 primary health providers were analyzed. Three quarters of the respondent were female. About 70% of all respondent demonstrated positive attitude towards physical health conditions (HIV/AIDS and NCDs) compared to persons with mental health disorders (64%). Providers also perceived more positively the integration of management of physical health conditions (HIV/AIDS, 78%; NCDS, 76%) into routine primary health care then the integration of mental health disorders (68%). Health providers who have worked in a health facility for five or less years are more likely to have positive attitude towards HIV/AIDS (p-value 0.032) and mental health disorders (p-value 0.58) than those who have worked for a longer periods. However; age, gender, profession, recent training in those conditions, religious affiliation and the volume of monthly patient attendance at health facility were not associated with attitude towards any of the three set of disorders.

Conclusion and recommendations
Mental health unlike physical health disorders are perceived negatively among primary care providers. It is likely that greater stigma is directed by primary care providers towards persons with mental health disorders than it is the case for those with physical health conditions. Other than the duration of work in a particular health facility, gender, age, recent training in mental health or HIV/AIDs or NCDs, religious affiliation, working in a low or high volume center does not influence the attitude pattern of providers towards those conditions. Negative attitude can lead to discrimination and therefore, deprivation of the right of service users to enjoyment of the highest possible standard of health as stipulated in international charters. Tainting and on the job mentorship especially targeting providers who have worked longer in a given health facility is recommended.

Survey on human rights based on who tool for assessing quality and human rights conditions in mental health facilities in Ethiopia

The purpose of this research is to assess quality of services, conditions and human rights in Amanuel Mental Specialized Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, using the WHO tool for assessing quality and human rights conditions in mental health facilities.

The research consisted of observations and interviews. Fourteen interviews were conducted, six with users, two with family members and six with staff members. The following thematic areas were investigated in the observations and interviews:

  • Profession, professionalism and consulting with health professionals
  • Building conditions and sleeping conditions
  • Seclusion, restraint and management of crisis situations
  • Food, water and diet
  • Clothing
  • Hygiene, bathing and toilet facilities
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), psychosurgery and other medical procedures that have permanent and irreversible effects
  • Activities and restrictions to communicate and to leave the facility
  • Humanity, dignity and respect
  • Psychotropic medication

Observations and interviews were conducted by the author together with a hospital staff member assigned by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the hospital.

The findings for each theme are summarized in the table below:

Theme Rating
Theme 1: The right to an adequate standard of living Achievement Initiated (A/I)
Theme 2: The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health Achieved partially (A/P)
Theme 4: Freedoms from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and from exploitation, violence and abuse Not initiated (N/I)

From the observations and interviews with users, family members and staff members several issues related to human rights transpired, and more specifically to violations of the rights to an adequate standard of living, the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the right of freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse.

Conclusions and Recommendations
Many violations of human rights have been discovered in this survey. Users are denied basic rights and exposed to inhuman treatments.
Areas where human rights have to be implemented include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), general hygiene and clothing, seclusion and restraint, humanity, dignity and respect. The quality of services needs to be greatly improved.