Global mental health: Strategies for staying current
By Kelly O'Donnell, PsyD
Global mental health is a burgeoning domain of research, advocacy and practice. It is increasingly being recognized and integrated into the international health, humanitarian and development sectors including the emerging Sustainable Development Goals Post 2015 Agenda. Grounded in the mental health disciplines, public health and human rights, GMH also continues its recognizable flow as a social movement prioritizing vulnerable populations: those among the estimated 450 million people who have mental, neurological or substance use conditions, who are marginalized by poverty, stigmatized for their conditions and/or have no access to quality mental health services.
“GMH is an international, interdisciplinary, and multi-sectoral domain, which promotes human wellbeing, the right to health, and equity in health for all. It encourages healthy behaviors and lifestyles; is committed to preventing and treating mental, neurological, and substance use conditions (MNS); and seeks to improve policies and programs, professional practices and research, advocacy and awareness, and social and environmental factors that affect health and wellbeing. Psychology, as a vast field of practice and practitioners serving humanity, plays a central role in the GMH domain.”
–Kelly O’Donnell, Global Mental Health: Finding Your Niches and Networks, Psychology International (March 2012, p. 10).
Staying Current with GMH
More details on the following GMH flows listed can be found at GMH-Map.
GMH Flow 1: Media Matters
- The United Nations Year in Review 2013 and BBC News.
- Films: Hidden Pictures: A Personal Journey into GMH, Like a Death Sentence and Breaking the Chains.
GMH Flow 2: Global Health and Development Agendas
- Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 [January 2014 article In the Monitor on Psychology (pp. 20-21)].
- Sustainable Development Goals Post 2015 Agenda (Position Statement), Framework Convention on Global Health, Noncommunicable Diseases Action Plan 2013-2020, World Economic Forum, Global Conferences on Health Promotion (PDF, 227KB) and global health governance (e.g., The Lancet article 11 February 2014).
GMH Flow 3: News and Views
- Movement for Global Mental Health Newsletter, Centre for Global Mental Health, Centre for International Mental Health, mhGAP, Psychology International and Gulbenkian GMH Platform.
GMH Flow 4: Internet Hubs
- WHO MINDbank, Psychology Resources around the World, in2mentalhealth, GMH-Map, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network and National Institute of Mental Health (USA).
GMH Flow 5: Research Compilations
- Lancet Series on GMH (October 2011), Harvard Review of Psychiatry (January 2012), PLOS Medicine (2013, 2012, 2009-2010) and International Health (March 2013).
- GMH edited volumes: GMH: Trauma and Recovery (2011, edited by Richard Mollica); 21st Century GMH (2012, edited by Eliot Sorel); GMH: Principles and Practice (2013, edited by Vikram Patel et al.) Public Mental Health: Global Perspectives (2013, edited by Lee Knifton, Neil Quinn); and Improving Mental Health Care: The Global Challenge (2013, edited by Graham Thornicroft et al).
- Coming soon: The special GMH issue from Intervention: International Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial Work, and Counselling in Areas of Armed Conflict and Psychology Serving Humanity: Proceedings of the 30th International Congress of Psychology (Volume One: Majority World Psychology; Volume Two: Western Psychology).
GMH Flow 6: Training
- King's College London and University of London (GMH), University of Glasgow (GMH), Univeridade Nova de Lisbao, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Mental Health Department (mental health policy and services), Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (counseling psychology/GMH) and The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has a doctoral program in International Psychology.
- Trauma and Recovery Certificate Program (Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma); Leadership in Mental Health Course (Sangath Centre in Goa, India and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine); and the various Mental Health and Research Development Programmes (Centre for International Mental Health, University of Melbourne).
- Materials: International Federation of the Red Cross an Red Crescent Societies, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ 2013 reports/manuals for People of Concern and for Staff, and WHO’s Building Back Better: Sustainable Mental Health Care after Emergencies (2013).
GMH Flow 7: Conferences
- International Congress of Psychology (Japan, 2016), calendar on the IUPsyS website, GMH Summits, WHO mhGAP Forums and the APA’s Annual Convention, which includes many GMH-relevant programs and presentations listed in a special international program by the Office of International Affairs.
Turning updates into action
GMH is a vast domain of challenges and opportunities for mental health professionals who want to leverage their skills on behalf of global well-being. In addition to skill sets, it also requires a mind-set that highly values human dignity and worth, staying updated, and venturing across disciplines, cultures, sectors and often our own comfort zones, in order to promote quality health for all.
“Our duty is to turn hope into action through hard work, commitment, skill, and integrity. With passion but most of all with compassion, we can build the future that your people want and that our world needs.”
– U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; final quote in the video report, U. N. Year in Review 2013.
This article builds upon two previous articles on GMH orientation in Psychology International: "A Resource Map for Connecting and Contributing" (July 2011) and “Finding Your Niches and Networks” (March 2012). It is also part of the GMH-Map project which researches, organizes, and shares important GMH resources. The principle article in the project, brings together the work of many colleagues by extensively highlighting materials from the last two decades of GMH developments: “Global Mental Health: A Resource Primer for Exploring the Domain" (International Perspectives in Psychology: Research Practice, Consultation (July 2012)). The full article can be found here GMH-Map.