Preparing communities for the future: rights-based approaches

Dialogue 5 | Speakers and Facilitators

  • Kim Wichera
    Kim Wichera

    Kim Wichera (they/them) have been working in the antipsychiatric facility runaway house “Villa Stöckle” in Berlin since 2005 and are an anti-psychiatric activist, editor, and artist.

  • Chris Hansen
    Chris Hansen

    Chris Hansen, a New Zealander by birth, is the Director of Intentional Peer Support, and has been co-teaching and developing Intentional Peer Support in the United States and in other countries with Shery Mead for the past 16 years. Chris has spent twenty years involved in local, regional, national, and international peer support and advocacy initiatives, and in mental health sector planning and politics from a service user perspective. Other roles have included clinical and management in both inpatient and outpatient mental health services, leadership within NZ’s award-winning anti-discrimination campaign, research for the NZ Mental Health Commission, and involvement in the development of the NZ national mental health strategic plan and workforce development strategy. Chris was a member of the New Zealand delegation to the United Nations for the development of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; has served on the board of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry and has played a key role in the development of a number of peer-run crisis respites and alternatives.

  • Sera Davidow
    Sera Davidow

    Sera Davidow is a filmmaker, activist, advocate, and mother of two verybusy kids. As a survivor of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse as a child and domestic violence as an adult, Sera has faced many challenges throughout herown healing process, including many ups and downs with suicidal thoughts, self- injury, and seeing disturbing visions. At present, she spends much of her time working with the Wildflower Alliance (formerly known as the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community), serving on the board of Hearing Voices USA, and writing for You can learn more about her and her work in an April, 2018 article in Sun Magazine.

  • Keris J Myrick
    Keris J Myrick

    Keris J Myrick is a Director at the Jed Foundation and Co-Director of The Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative (S2i) which aims to advance the transformation of mental health by catalyzing cross-sectional reforms, strengthening collaborations, and bridging gaps. She serves on the Board of the National Association of Peer Specialists (NAPS) and is a Certified Personal Medicine Coach. Ms. Myrick previously held positions as the Chief, Peer and Allied Health Professions for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, the Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs for the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) of the United States Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), President and CEO of Project Return Peer Support Network, a Los Angeles-based, peer-run nonprofit and the Board President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Ms. Myrick is a leading mental health advocate and executive, known for her innovative and inclusive approach to mental health reform and the public disclosure of her personal story. Ms. Myrick has over 15 years experience in mental health services innovations, transformation, and peer workforce development. In June 2021, Ms Myrick was the recipient of Mental Health America’s highest honor the Clifford W. Beers Award. Ms. Myrick’s personal story was featured in the New York Times series: Lives Restored, which told the personal narratives of several professionals living with mental health issues. Ms. Myrick is an in-demand national trainer and keynote speaker, and has authored several peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She is known for her collaborative style and innovative “whole person” approach to mental health care and is a podcast host of “Unapologetically Black Unicorns” which centers on lived experience, race equity, and mental health change agents. Ms. Myrick has a Master of Science degree in organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology of Alliant International University. Her Master of Business Administration degree is from Case Western University’s Weatherhead School of Management.

  • Cat Brooks
    Cat Brooks

    Cat Brooks has been a force for change as she engages in the work of accompaniment and struggle. Inspired by her own lived experience, she has spent her life organizing to bring an end to unjust systems which were built to sustain the privileges of the status quo. Whether honing her skills as a consummate performer and passionate speaker or serving as the Communications Director for Coaching Corps, as Executive Director of Youth Together, or as Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild, Cat’s leadership has always been informed by and in collaboration with impacted communities. She played a central role in the struggle for justice for Oscar Grant and is the co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP) whose mission is to rapidly respond to and ultimately eradicate state violence in communities of color. With APTP she shepherded the development of a “First Responders” process which provides resources and training for a rapid community- based response to police violence. This model is currently being replicated across the state of California and the country. While Cat’s energies have been centered on activism and community engagement, she also successfully navigates the “halls of power” offering her considerable skills to the work of negotiating the passage of AB392 and SB 1421. In addition, she has organized with local housing advocates to bring Proposition 10 (Repeal Costa Hawkins) to the ballot in November. Cat currently serves as the Executive Director of the Justice Teams Network, a network of grassroots activists providing rapid response and healing justice in response to all forms of State violence across California. In addition, she is touring her one-woman show, Tasha, about the in-custody murder of Natasha McKenna in the Fairfax County Jail. And, in late 2018, Cat was the runner up in the Oakland mayoral race. She lives in West Oakland with her daughter.

  • Faraaz Mahomed
    Faraaz Mahomed

    Faraaz Mahomed is a Clinical Psychologist and Researcher in the field of rights- based approaches to mental health and wellbeing. He received a Doctor of Public Health Degree from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health focusing on mental health and human rights. In addition, he received an MA in Clinical Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa and an MA in International Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, as a Fulbright Scholar. He is a Research Associate at the Harvard Law School Project on Disability and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Applied Legal Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Currently working with the Public Health Program of the Open Society Foundations on issues of mental health financing and global mental health governance, he has been a research consultant to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health, UNICEF, and others. He previously held the positions of Senior Researcher for Equality at the South African Human Rights Commission and Clinical Psychologist in community health settings in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.

  • Inez Feria
    Inez Feria

    Inez Feria is the Founder and Director of NoBox Philippines. NoBox is a nonprofit organization committed to bringing our humanity front and center into our understanding and response to drugs, and to the creation of bigger and more liberating spaces for people whose lives include drugs, which, essentially, is really for all of us. NoBox advocates for policies and programs anchored on principles of harm reduction, human rights, and justice. Inez is fueled by the belief that we can make the world a little more logical, a little more scientific, and, always, a little kinder.

  • Dean Peacock
    Dean Peacock

    Over the last three decades, Dean Peacock has worked in South Africa, across Africa, the Americas, and globally, to prevent violence, promote peace, and advance gender equality and human rights.

    Dean Peacock has founded and directed many ground-breaking local, national, and global initiatives, and has built strong civil society organisations and alliances. These have used a combination of research, academic partnerships, strategic litigation, policy advocacy, and community mobilization to win changes in national laws in South Africa, and contribute to important paradigmatic and programmatic changes within civil society, governments, the United Nations, and amongst bilateral donors.

    He is currently the director of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s multi-country initiative to mobilise men for feminist peace. He is also an Honorary Senior Lecturer and BRIDGES PhD Fellow at the University of Cape Town’s School of Public Health, a Visiting Scholar at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, a Senior Fellow at Promundo, and an Ashoka Changemaker Fellow. He was short-listed for the 2019 Skoll award for entrepreneurship. He is the Co-Founder and former Executive Director of Sonke Gender Justice, a multi-award winning South African NGO working in twentyfive countries across Africa, and the Co-Founder and former Co-Chair of the MenEngage Alliance, now active in over seventy countries around the world.

    Dean has an Honors Degree in Development Studies from UC Berkeley, a Masters in Social Welfare from San Francisco State University, and is a candidate for a PhD in Public Health at the University of Cape Town.

  • Líam Mac Gabhann
    Líam Mac Gabhann

    Líam Mac Gabhann is a mental health practitioner/therapist, community activist, medical sociologist, and researcher into transforming dialogues in mental health communities. He has been working in mental health communities with like minded critical voices and activists to play any small part that will shift the paradigm to effective supports and services in mental health communities. He is Associate Professor in Mental Health Practice at Dublin City University, where the administrative headquarters of INTAR is now based and he provides secretariat support to the INTAR organising committee.

  • Andrea Parra
    Andrea Parra

    Andrea Parra is an attorney, legal activist, translator and experiential trainer. She is a core trainer with Training for Change, a U.S.-based organization that has developed an experiential methodology of training that supports groups to stand up more effectively for justice, peace and the environment. Until recently, she was the Global Advocacy Director for CREA, a feminist human rights organization based in India. She has also worked at the Washington College of Law of American University as the Practitioner-in-Residence for the Immigrant Justice Clinic. Prior to that she was the director of the Action Program for Equality and Social Inclusion (PAIIS), a human rights law clinic at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia focusing on advocating against discrimination based on disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. She was a professor at the School of Law of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá for seven years and was awarded the Innovative Teaching Award

    in 2015. Between 2007 and 2011, she worked as a senior staff attorney at Women’s Link Worldwide, where she directed the Gender Justice Observatory. Between 2001 and 2006 she worked as staff attorney and supervisor of the Domestic Violence unit at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle, USA. She has trained in various countries on issues related to human rights, sexuality and disability as well as conducted training of trainers in experiential education. She is also a translator and interpreter on feminist and social justice issues and among others, translated the books Gender Stereotyping, Transnational Legal Perspectives by Rebecca Cook and Simone Cusack and Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow: An Organizing Guide by Daniel Hunter. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Sinergias, a member of the Colombian Coalition for the Implementation of the CRPD, and has worked closely with Colombian grassroots groups working to advance trans rights and disability justice. @andreparrafo

"What does public safety actually mean now? I'm sure many of you have heard the tagline that is ripping across our country: "reimagine public safety." What does that actually look like? And for us, it meant decriminalizing a lot of behaviors, engagements, situations that were only criminalized because of the color of the people that were involved in the engagement." Cat Brooks

In this final dialogue, we returned to the basics and imagined physical and mental health in which people are at the center, claiming their entitlements to all social determinants of health.

This series of virtual conversations has highlighted the legacy and work of all Special Rapporteurs across the mandate. Incorporating past themes, this segment helped equip Tlaleng Mofokeng with the tools to address persisting challenges and embrace newfound opportunities in global health.

The dialogue focused on the need to reframe dominant biomedical models of physical and mental health. It presented two possible futures: one in which states control populations through medicalization, coercion, and social surveillance, and one that is governed by participatory, rights-based approaches, placing social justice at its core. The dialogue highlighted the mandate’s critical role in ensuring the second alternative is achieved.



Discussion Paper


UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health