DAILY / MAY 8, 2018  
Psychiatric News Update

APA Presents First Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award to Global MH Rights NGO

Chester Pierce Award Winner
APA’s 2018 Chester M. Pierce Human Rights Award was presented to Janos Fiala-Butora, the executive director of the Validity Foundation at APA’s Annual Meeting on Monday. (APA Medical Director and CEO Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. [left], and President-elect Altha Stewart, M.D., are pictured with Fiala-Butora above.)

Founded in 2002, Validity works by filing lawsuits on behalf of individuals with mental illness and mental disabilities in Europe and Africa with the goal of setting legal precedents that will help all persons with mental disabilities attain inclusion, education, and equality.

“Mental health law was not a field taught in central Europe, where I am from,” said Fiala-Butora. Psychiatry services in Central Europe are not underdeveloped, he said, but historically they have been heavily influenced by communism. There, unfortunately, psychiatry has been abused by political leaders and the state as a means of separating dissidents from society, he said.

The organization tackles the denial of education for children with mental disabilities, who in many countries are either placed in separate education systems or ignored as “ineducable.” Through another of its campaigns, Validity is working to halt the mass institutionalization of people with mental disabilities who are kept in inhumane conditions, often chained or strapped to beds, with almost no medical oversight, Fiala-Butora said. In Uganda, for instance, the country has 14 million citizens and a mental health care budget of only $200,000. When needed, Validity has taken cases of human rights violations to international courts.

“We are very grateful that APA has recognized our work, lifting the morale of our staff by acknowledging that what we do has value, so that we can continue on this path,” he said.

In 2017 APA renamed its Human Rights Award for Chester M. Pierce, M.D., in honor of his legacy of innovative research; advocacy against disparities, stigma, and discrimination; and pioneer work in global mental health.

(Image: Oscar and Associates)


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