Human rights and global mental health: Challenges, opportunities and scenarios for the future 


Thursday, February 27, 2020, 1:00pm to 2:30pm


Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, 124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 520N

Puras mental health poster
Please join the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the University of Massachusetts-Boston for this important conversation about the future challenges and opportunities to respect, protect, and advance the right to mental health. 

Space is limited, so please register here.

Event Description  

A rights-based approach to mental health is based on respect for the inherent dignity of all people. In his country visits over the past five years, Special Rapporteur Pūras has observed that mental health is grossly neglected within health systems around the world. Where mental health systems exist, they do so in isolation, segregated from regular healthcare despite the intimate relationship between physical and mental health. As a result, the Special Rapporteur has made mental health and emotional well-being a priority focus since the beginning of his tenure and the intended legacy of his work from the U.N. mandate. Dr. Puras has argued that good mental health and well-being cannot be defined by the absence of a mental health condition, but must be defined instead by the social, psychosocial, political, economic and physical environment that enables individuals and populations to live a life of dignity, with full enjoyment of their rights and in the equitable pursuit of their potential. In an attempt to contribute to the discussion around mental health as a global health priority, the Special Rapporteur calls for a shift in the paradigm, based on the recurrence of human rights violations in mental health settings, all too often affecting persons with intellectual, cognitive and psychosocial disabilities. 

About the Speaker

Dainius Pūras (Lithuania) is the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health appointed in June 2014. Dr. Puras is a medical doctor with notable expertise on mental health and child‘s health. He is director of Human Right Monitoring Insitute in Vilnius and Professor of child psychiatry and public mental health at Vilnius University, Lithuania. He is also visiting Professor at the University of Essex (UK) and a Distinguished Visitor with the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown university (USA). Dr. Puras is a human rights advocate who has been actively involved during the last 30 years in the process of transforming public health policies and services, with special focus on the rights of children, persons with mental disabilities, and other groups in vulnerable situations.