Being an active career to her brother who lives with schizophrenia and seeing the problems faced by families trying to cope with mental illness consequences and the unfairness of the situation service users find themselves in prompted Aikaterina to become actively involved in the mental health issues that affect vulnerable people and society as a whole.
Her personal experience with mental illness has inspired a desire to come to a more in depth understanding of mental health, law and human rights. At the age of 33 Aikaterina decided to become a lawyer and be specialised in the rights of people with disabilities with a focus on mental health issues.
During her frequent visits to places of detention, including inpatient and residential facilities, she witnessed recovery hindering poor quality care, people with disorders of the brain locked away in prison-like cells with no human contact or chained to their beds, and family members experiencing a stigma, isolation and discrimination worst than the disorder of their loved suffering family member itself. This prompted her to commit herself in helping people with disorders of the brain and experiences of extensive restrictions to their basic human rights.
She is currently a practising lawyer specialising in mental health & human rights, a WHO PFPS (patients for patient safety) Champion for Greece, Secretary general of the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks GAMIAN-Europe, President of the Panhellenic Federation of Mental Health Organisations POSOPSI, Vice president of the Association of families/carers for mental health, Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders SOFPSI N.SERRON, Visiting lecturer of Compassionate Care and Health law at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Crete, and a member of the pool of experts of the EC (Chafea). As a EC and WHO consultant Aikaterina has worked with governments and organisations on human rights oriented mental health policies and legislations, including in Afghanistan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Sierra Leone.
Her area of passion and expertise includes the use of the World Health Organization’s innovative QualityRights tool kit and package of training and guidance modules to assess quality and human rights in mental health and social care facilities, and to build capacity among mental health practitioners, people with psychosocial, intellectual and cognitive disabilities, families, care partners and others on how to implement a human rights and recovery approach in the area of mental health in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other international human rights standards.