Former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter Honored by World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros for 50 years of Mental Health Advocacy

Carter Center Board of Trustees Chair Jason Carter Accepts Award of Global Health Given to Mrs. Carter During Opening 74th World Health Assembly

 ATLANTA (May 24, 2021)—Former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter was recognized today by the World Health Organization (WHO) for 50 years of leadership to help improve access to health care for all people with mental health and substance use issues.

During a virtual ceremony at the opening of the 74th World Health Assembly, WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros presented Mrs. Carter with an Award for Global Health in recognition of her contributions to advancing global health. Rosalynn Carter was one of three recipients honored with this award during the opening remarks today.

In a pre-recorded video, Carter Center Board of Trustees Chairperson Jason J. Carter, grandson to Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, read a letter from Mrs. Carter and accepted the award on her behalf. “The World Health Organization’s Director-General’s award for global health is a great honor celebrating my grandmother’s 50 years of advocacy. I’ll note that when she spoke to the Medical Society of the WHO in May of 1979, she become the first sitting first lady of the United States to address the members of the WHO. 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,” said Carter.

In a letter that Jason Carter read from Rosalynn Carter, she said: “The Director-General’s award for global health is especially meaningful to me in light of the Carter Center’s long partnership with WHO to eradicate debilitating neglected tropical diseases and to promote the inclusion of mental health as an integral part of overall well-being. 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. 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.”

View the full WHO award ceremony by clicking one of the two links below:

Learn about Rosalynn Carter’s 50 years of mental health advocacy and see a timeline and videos of her work to advance mental health in the U.S. and globally »

Learn more about the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program and global mental health work here.

The Carter Center has had a long partnership with WHO to eradicate debilitating neglected tropical diseases and to promote the inclusion of mental health as an integral part of overall wellbeing. See more on our work with WHO to prevent, eliminate, or eradicate neglected tropical diseases, including Guinea worm disease, here.


The Carter Center
Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope.

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

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Global Health Award

WHO award

Recipient, WHO Director-General’s Award for Global Mental Health, 2021

Partner, Mental Health Action Day, 2021

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