Reimagining the mental health paradigm for our collective well-being

(June 2020)

Chapman, A., Williams, C., Hannah, J. and Pūras, D., Health and Human Rights. 22 (1), 1-6

When we planned the special section of this issue and distributed our call for papers, we wanted to present a collection that would reflect our view that not only is there is no health without mental health, but there is no mental health without human rights. We were hopeful that papers from around the world would illustrate human rights-based approaches to easing mental distress, critique the status quo in how we understand and respond to mental health, and illuminate the scale of suffering that arises from our unequal, racist, discriminatory, and violent world. The issue was timed to coincide with guest editor Dainius Pūras’s completion of his second and final term as United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the right to health. Mental health has been a special focus of his mandate, resulting in several reports on the subject, and he also contributed to the two UN resolutions affirming mental health as a human right. In his most recent report to the UN General Assembly and in his final report to the Human Rights Council, Pūras examines the social determinants of mental health and calls for discussions and actions that are “rights-based, holistic and rooted in the lived experience of those left furthest behind by harmful sociopolitical systems, institutions and practices.” Of great relevance now to our post-pandemic world, he stresses that these discussions are needed at global, regional, and national levels to better understand the collective failures of the status quo in mental health systems. Read more