UN Special Rapporteur: The Right to Health


Earlier this year the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Mr. Dainius Pūras, from Lithuania presented his visionary report on mental health to countries at the Human Rights Council (report available in several languages here). We congratulate them on this very important work.

The report provides an important framework and road map for mental health that responds to people’s needs, respects their rights and ensures that the dignity of every person is respected.

Dementia is listed under mental health at the WHO, but it is pleasing to note that due to the advocacy of DAI and Autism International at the Mental Health GAP forum last year, dementia is now formally recognised there as a condition causing those of us digosed with it as having cognitive disabilities, rather than it being a mental illness, intellectual disability or psychosocial disability.

In the Introduction of this report, it states:

1. Mental health and emotional well-being are priority areas of focus for the Special Rapporteur (see A/HRC/29/33). In each thematic report, he has attempted to bring mental health into focus as a human rights and development priority in the context of early childhood development (see A/70/213), adolescence (see A/HRC/32/32) and the Sustainable Development Goals (see A/71/304).

2. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur expands on this issue and provides a basic introduction to some of the core challenges and opportunities for advancing the realization of the right to mental health of everyone. In the light of the scope and complexity of the issue and of the evolving human rights framework and evidence base, in his report the Special Rapporteur seeks to make a contribution to the important discussions under way as mental health emerges from the shadows as a global health priority.

3. The present report is the result of extensive consultations among a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives of the disability community, users and former users of mental health services, civil society representatives, mental health practitioners, including representatives of the psychiatric community and the World Health Organization (WHO), academic experts, members of United Nations human rights mechanisms and representatives of Member States

The World Health Organization is committed to responding to the report’s call for Member States to seek technical assistance from the WHO QualityRights initiative in order to promote access to good quality mental health and related services and respect for the rights of persons with psychosocial, intellectual and cognitive disabilities.

Human Rights Consultant for DAI and ADI, Professor Peter Mittler and DAI Chair and CEO Kate Swaffer have been actively involved in the WHO QualityRights work, and DAI continues to seek your feedback.

If any DAI members wish to become part of a small working group to provide feedback on this project, or need more information, please email us as soon as possible please.