Harm Reduction -- A Critical Ingredient for Human Rights

Harm Reduction - A Critical Ingredient for Human Rights


Karen Rosenthal & Jessica Nagel

This workshop underscores the human rights connection between harm reduction and rights-based approaches to addressing mental health concerns. Although Harm Reductionists and Mental Health Activists both work to promote human rights, they are not always working in tandem. As a leader in providing supportive housing for individuals who live with mental health concerns, Community Access, Inc., recognizes how much common ground there is between harm reduction and a rights-based approach to mental health when fighting AOT, boycotting the DSM, and providing and promoting other alternative approaches to the medical model. Although harm reduction and radical mental health approaches go hand-in-hand, they often remain separate topics of discussion. This presentation stresses the importance of connecting the two as a way to further the fight against discrimination and oppression.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of how harm reduction and rights-based mental health approaches are intertwined, and how they each promote self-determination, dignity and social justice.
  • Learn concrete harm reduction strategies that can be utilized by individuals and communities towards healing and empowerment.
  • Understand how a harm reduction, rights-based approach fights oppressive policies, practices, and laws, e.g., the War on Drugs and its impact on communities of color and individuals labeled with mental health/substance use disorders.

Link to brief presenter bios: Karen Rosenthal, Jessica Nagel