The Division’s mission is to strengthen the global delivery of quality mental health care through bi-directional research, training, and service delivery with international global partners. Our vision is to expand quality psychiatric care for the global community.

Summary of relevant work: 

The Division has a strong track record of successful partnerships and research with collaborators in low-resource settings in Boston and around the world. A handful of our projects are described below:

  • After developing the National Mental Health Policy for Liberia in 2009, the Division established a partnership with the University of Liberia/A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine to meet the mental health, substance use/abuse, and neurological needs of a population with one practicing psychiatrist. We have subseqently sent 14 physicians to Liberia to train and lecture 50+ medical students and work closely with forth and fifth year medical students during their psychiatry rotation (16 students). Our faculty has worked alongside primary care physicians and provided clinical care to more than 200 patients. In addition, our leadership has conducted studies in Liberia on child/adolescent mental health development, substance use and high-risk behavior in students, traditional medicine and mental health, and psychosocial distress and wellbeing in adults.

  • Through collaborations with Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, we are conducting some of the most rigorous psychiatric research in a low-resource setting. This includes a randomized Sequential Parallel Design for Double-Blind Phase fixed dose 4-month trial of folate plus B12 as add-on therapy in schizophrenic Ethiopian patients with stable residual positive or negative symptoms.

  • In 2014, we launched a program with a faith-based organization, Christ Jubilee International Ministries, in Lowell, MA (USA) to assess the health and mental health needs in the community. Lowell is home to a large international population, a quarter of whom are foreign born. A rising number are of African descent, many from war-affected countries (e.g. Liberia and Sierra Leone). Refugees and immigrants who have been exposed to war and violence typically face unique challenges including acclimating to a foreign country, culture, and language. Research has shown that they are at higher risk for health and mental health problems. During the first year of our collaboration with Christ Jubilee, we discovered many people in the community reported barriers to accessing mental health care including lack of insurance, difficulty navigating health care systems, language challenges when communicating with care providers, a pervasive tendency to only seek treatment in the most severe situations, stigma, decreased awareness of treatment options other than medication, and aversions to medication.

  • In addition, we launched the country’s first Global Psychiatric Postdoctoral Clinical Research Training Program (T32) funded by the National Institute of Mental Health in July 2012. This program was created in response to the national shortage of globally oriented mental health researchers. The program prepares trainees to become independent investigators who can address critical mental health needs in resource-limited and post-conflict settings. As part of this program, we have research training sites in Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Barbados. 

The Chester M. Pierce, MD Division of Global Psychiatry
Massachusetts General Hospital
151 Merrimac Street, 4th floor
Boston, MA 02114 USA

Key partners: 
United States of America