World financial leaders: Improve the mental health and wealth of your nation

Innovation Fair in Washington D.C. demonstrates it is possible to deliver effective and affordable mental health care even in low-resource settings.

"There is quite a burgeoning evidence base now that interventions in mental health make a difference… The obligation on all of us now is to make it happen, to make the necessary investments.”

– MP Norman Lamb, UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health meeting, 22 February 2016

Affordable, evidence-based innovations that are improving mental health at scale will be showcased at an Innovation Fair, coordinated by MHIN in conjunction with the World Bank Group (WBG) and the World Health Organization (WHO), on 13 April 2016 at Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, Washington D.C. The Fair is supported by supported by The Wellcome Trust with contribution from Grand Challenges Canada, US National Institute of Mental Health. The purpose of the Fair is to demonstrate that improving mental health is not only possible in diverse countries and settings, but yields substantial return on investment— including health, social and economic benefits.

The Innovation Fair is the inaugural event of the landmark “Out of the Shadows: Making Mental Health a Global Development Priority” meeting, co-hosted by the WBG and WHO, and coinciding with the annual Spring Meeting of the WBG and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Fair provides a space for attending delegates – such as ministers of finance, health, and social sectors—to meet mental health innovators working across five regions: Africa, Asia, Latin and the Caribbean, Middle East, as well as High Income Countries.

From evidence to practice: making an impact at scale

As a World Financial Leader, you know that the mental health of your nation is important, but how to address it can be difficult to ascertain. The Innovation Fair will showcase carefully selected innovations from the growing evidence base that demonstrate feasible, affordable and cost-effective ways to improve the mental health and wealth of your nation. Global decision-makers, those with the power to influence mental health care access and availability for the vast majority of the world’s population, will have the opportunity to hear about the incredible work that innovators across the world are doing to tackle the burden of mental disorders.

Bringing mental health “out of the shadows”

Momentum is building to make mental health a global development priority. Mental health issues impose a tremendous disease burden on societies across the world. Depression alone affects 350 million people globally and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. The costs—human and financial—of failing to address mental health are enormous. The total economic output lost to mental and substance use disorders in 2010 alone was US$8.5 trillion worldwide, and will nearly double to 16.1 trillion by 20301. Despite the imperative to act, mental, neurological and substance use disorders continue to be driven into the shadows by stigma, prejudice and fear. The issue is becoming ever more urgent in light of the many challenges world leaders are currently facing, such as forced migration and sustained conflict, economic insecurity, natural disasters and epidemics, to name a few.

That leaders of global development are now prioritizing actions to address the global burden of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders represents an important step toward achieving parity of esteem for mental and physical health.

Attending the Innovation Fair

Are you attending the WBG/IMF Spring Meeting? Meet some of the world’s leading mental health innovators at the Innovation Fair

When: 9am – 3.30pm, 13 April 2016

Where: Convening Centre, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, Washington D.C., USA

Unable to attend? Follow the event at #mentalhealthnow

Want a sneak peek?

For a sneak peek of some of the innovations being showcased, check out their Innovation pages on MHIN:


  1. Bloom, D.E., Cafiero, E.T., Jané-Llopis, E., Abrahams-Gessel, S., Bloom, L.R., Fathima, S., Feigl, A.B., Gaziano, T., Mowafi, M., Pandya, A., Prettner, K., Rosenberg, L., Seligman, B., Stein, A.Z., & Weinstein, C. (2011). The Global Economic Burden of Noncommunicable Diseases. Geneva: World Economic Forum.

About The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We support bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine.

Image captions and credits (left to right)

A child draws while his mother attends a literacy class in Gulu, Uganda, as part of a microfinance program sponsored by Women's Global Empowerment Fund. © 2009 Jessica Alderman, Courtesy of Photoshare

​Bishshamoni grows eggplant in a field leased from an NGO in Mahadebpur, Naogaon district, Bangladesh. © 2010 Sumon Yusuf, Courtesy of Photoshare

​Reshma Akhter, an 8-year-old from the Rayerbazar slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh, breaks through the ribbon during a race. She is one of 150 students attending the Gana Unnayan Pathshala School established by Hunger Project volunteers Shanti Rebaru and Tajima Majumdar in July 2003. © 2004 Syed Ziaul Habib Roobon, Courtesy of Photoshare

Children participate in a painting activity to illustrate child rights at the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR) in Bethlehem, Palestinian Territory. © 2012 Bassam Almohor/Chemonics International, Courtesy of Photoshare

​A girl with mental disabilities does physical exercises with the help of a medical technician at the rehabilitation center of Missionario das Irmas Hospitaleiras at Bairro das Mahotas in Maputo, Mozambique. © 2012 Carlos Litulo, Courtesy of Photoshare

Middle East
North America
Central America and the Caribbean
South America
Maternal and neonatal health
Children and adolescents
Older adults
Families and carers
Minority populations
Humanitarian and conflict health
Non-communicable diseases (e.g. cancer, diabetes, stroke)
Communicable diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDS, TB)
Primary care
Specialist care
All disorders
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I hope they will find time to put such fairs together more often in the future, seing as this is the currently ongoing issue many strive to break through. Good work and I am looking forward to more news like this one.
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