Rosalynn Carter honored by WHO for 50 years of work in mental health advocacy

ATLANTA — Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter was honored by the World Health Organization for her work in mental health advocacy.

During a virtual ceremony during the opening of the 74th World Health Assembly, WHO presented Carter with an Award for Global Health.

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Carter has worked to improve access to health care for people with mental health and substance abuse issues for 50 years.

Carter’s grandson, Jason Carter, accepted the award for her and read a letter on her behalf.


“My hope is that this is the moment when all nations will make behavioral health a priority and create quality systems of care that are equitably delivered,” Carter said. “I’ve been waiting a long time to see this happen. I urge all of you attending to use your influence and talent to ensure that it does.”

Carter first spoke to the Medical Society of the WHO in May of 1979, becoming the first sitting First Lady to address members of the organization. She advocated for the Mental Health Systems Act, which was signed into law the next year.

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“It was a groundbreaking event as a first lady and groundbreaking for mental health, because on that day she stated that health is a human right and that you cannot have true health without recognizing mental health as a crucial component,” Jason Carter said.

The Carter Center has had a long partnership with WHO to end debilitating neglected tropical diseases and promote the inclusion of mental health as an integral part of overall well-being.