Human Rights

Human Rights"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."  -Eleanor Roosevelt in a speech to the United Nations, 1958.

In 1948, the world community united to articulate a set of basic rights and fundamental freedoms to which all persons are entitled. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides a framework for organizing services based on principles of nondiscrimination, respect, dignity, and fairness, and for engaging individuals as active participants in society. As Eleanor Roosevelt stated in her speech to the United Nations, human rights are meaningful only if the are protected in day-to-day life. For this reason, we are committed to advocating for the most marginalized, excluded, and discriminated against, and for creating environments and systems that are humane and respectful of individual dignity.

Persons with mental disabilities

Research on human rights

In January 2017, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights released a report summarizing major challenges faced by consumers of mental health services, individuals with mental health conditions, and persons with psychosocial disabilities. These include stigma and discrimination, violations of economic, social and other rights, and the denial of autonomy and legal capacity. The report follows a resolution in 2016 of the Human Rights Council calling for the recognition of the rights of people with a broad spectrum of mental health disorders (e.g., depression and alcoholism) and illness (e.g., schizophrenia and bipolar disorder).  

Mental health in the global community has been a long-neglected problem – so much so that, in June 2017, the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Puras, called for nothing short of a "revolution in mental health care to end decades of neglect, abuse and violence."  Puras urged governments and psychiatrists around the world to "act with courage to reform a crisis-hit system built on outdated attitudes."

Want to learn more?

What can you do?

  • Actively work to change attitudes, raise awareness and reduce stigma. 
  • Use social media to promote human rights. Try using hashtags such as #standup4humanrights and #humanrights. 
  • Donate to or help raise money for an organization that seeks to promote human rights.