Nov 1, 2019
1:00pm - 2:30pm    |    Lester Pollack Colloquium Room, 9th Floor, Furman Hall, 245 Sullivan Street, New York, NY 10012

Please join the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice for this important conversation with activists, psychologists, researchers and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health about the future challenges and opportunities to respect, protect, and advance the right to mental health.


There is no health without mental health. 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 UN mandate.

In an attempt to contribute to the discussion around mental health as a global health priority, the Special Rapporteur focuses on the right of everyone to mental health and some of the core challenges and opportunities, urging that the promotion of mental health be addressed for all ages in all settings. He 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. The Special Rapporteur makes a number of recommendations for States and all stakeholders to move towards mental health systems that are based on and compliant with human rights. He will be joined by Julie Hannah (Advisor to the Special Rapporteur), Lisa Cosgrove (Professor of Psychology) and Faraaz Mahomed (OSF Program Officer). Today, there are unique opportunities for mental health and the right to health framework offers guidance to secure dignity and well-being for all.

About the Speakers

The event will be moderated by Julie Hannah—Advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and Co-Director of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, University of Essex (UK). We are delighted to host the following panelists:

  • Dainius Pūras is the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health appointed in June 2014. Dainius is a medical doctor with notable expertise on mental health and child‘s health. He is the Director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute in Vilnius, Lithuania 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). Dainius 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.


  • Lisa Cosgrove is a Professor of Counseling and School Psychology in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Dr. Cosgrove has expertise in developing a rights-based and social justice approach to global mental health. She was a Research Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University (2010-2015), and was co-chair of the task force on Depression Outcome Measures, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2017-2018). Dr. Cosgrove, along with former doctoral student Emily Wheeler, received the Distinguished Publication Award for their paper “Industry’s colonization of psychiatry,” and is co-author, with Robert Whitaker, of Psychiatry under the Influence: Institutional Corruption, Social Injury, and Prescriptions for Reform.


  • Faraaz Mahomed is a public health professional, psychologist, and human rights researcher. As the Program Officer for Mental Health and Rights at Open Society Foundations, Mr Mahomed manages a portfolio for grant-making in the field of mental health budget advocacy and conducts research to support the development of best practices in rights-based approaches to mental health. He has conducted research in the fields of psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, and health rights of migrants and refugees at Harvard University (2016-2017) and the University of Essex (2018). Mr Mahomed practiced as a Clinical Psychologist in South Africa and has a Doctorate of Public Health in Mental Health and Human Rights from Harvard University (2016-2019).



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