Dovile Juodkaite

Director of NGO Global initiative on psychiatry, Vilnius office (Lithuania).

The course was very valuable for the broad knowledge gained in international human rights standards as referred to persons with psycho-social disabilities.

While introducing the most recent international document – UN Convention on the rights of person with disabilities (CRPD), the course acknowledged all the participants with the core definitions and provisions of CRPD, presenting the shift of paradigm in protecting and realizing rights of persons with disabilities, and especially persons with psycho-social disabilities. Requirements enshrined in CRPD towards securing rights of persons with psycho-social disabilities with regards to their equal recognition before the law, liberty, prohibition of torture and other special provisions were of outmost importance for promoting mental health law reforms worldwide.

Linking mental health issues with human rights and providing concrete and practical examples for developing of mental health policy and legislation was one of the main accomplishments of the study program, which brought together lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other professionals and gave possibilities for sharing views and opinions but coming to an agreement for better protection of the fundamental rights for each and every. Thus it gave participants an indispensable knowledge and skills in bringing about positive change in this area in their own countries. Having both theoretical lectures on the issues and practical tasks and examples to discuss during the residential sessions and also having assignments during the whole year to analyze particular cases, including examples from the countries was the best combination of various methods used for an effective studying.

As working in the NGO sector and being active in advocating and lobbying for the mental health reforms, this course was especially important and valuable for my current work. Besides, it introduced me with the broad network of human rights and mental health care activists, not only being highly professionals, but also truly dedicated to the cause of their daily work – realizing rights of persons with mental disabilities worldwide

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