Dévora Kestel is a senior global mental health policy expert with more than thirty years of international experience in Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America; implementing and advising governments on national policies related to mental health systems. She is a strong advocate for the rights of people with mental health issues.
Ms. Kestel obtained her MSc in Psychology from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, in Argentina and her MSc in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK. After completing her university studies in Argentina, she worked for 10 years in the development and supervision of community-based mental health services in Trieste, Italy. In 2000 she joined WHO as a mental health officer first in post-war Kosovo and then in Albania where she became the WHO Representative. In both countries, she worked closely with the Ministries of Health to help establish comprehensive community-based mental health systems.
In 2007 Ms. Kestel joined the Pan American Health Organization working initially with the English-Speaking Caribbean Countries, and later on at the headquarters in Washington DC, providing technical cooperation in the mental health field to the entire region. Over the years, Ms. Kestel has contributed to and co-authored to numerous publications in the area of mental health.
Since 2019 Ms. Kestel is the WHO Director of Mental Health and Substance Use.