Every three years the World Psychiatric Association holds its World Congress. David W. Oaks was a ‘special lecturer” on the topic of human rights at the WPA World Congress in 2008 in Prague, Czech Republic. The title of the talk was, “An Urgent Need for Dialogue About a ‘Global Emergency’ of Human Rights Violations in Mental Health Care.” Activist Debra Shulkes of Prague was in the audience, and gives this reaction.



Recommendation by Debra Shulkes of Prague, Czech Republic for David Oaks speech to World Psychiatric Association World Congress.

David delivered a powerful and important message in his lecture to the World Psychiatry Association Congress in September 2008. One of only a handful of speakers to address human rights issues in the mental health system, he directed his audience to what should have been the real agenda of this conference on “person-centered psychiatry.”

It was clearly no easy task to query current institutional practices at this conference of clinicians. Nevertheless, those who heard David’s talk came away with key information about human rights violations in the mental health systems of Turkey and several countries in Eastern Europe, as well as the Czech Republic and the US.

I felt privileged to hear David speak and inspired by his call for “a non-violent revolution in mental heath care” based on ongoing dialogue between professional organisations and the actual users and survivors of psychiatry.