The Global Mental Health Peer Network (GMHPN) was founded by Charlene Sunkel and launched in 2018.

The GMHPN's focus involves the building of a sustainable structure to serve two main purposes: 1) to develop a global leadership of lived experience; and 2) to create a sophisticated communication platform where the lived experience community can share their views, opinions, perceptions and experiences.

The GMHPN emerged to give a voice to persons living with a mental health condition and who are users of mental health care and services - this specific target group of people with lived experience had never before been adequately represented at both local and international levels or been meaningfully involved in addressing the challenges and needs that they face on a daily basis at grassroots level. Yet many posses excellent leadership potential and passion but never been given the opportunity to lead and inspire change.

The GMHPN specifically focuses on empowering and developing leadership potential to generate new global lived experience leaders, specifically focusing on the younger generation to start taking the lead.

The GMHPN’s projects and overall work in the field of mental health and human rights advocacy, aspires to have lived experience representation and mental health lived experience leadership from all 195 countries in the world, and becoming the first truly globally represented lived experience organisation in the world, who are instrumental in driving change and transformation, in every country. This is an ambitious goal, but it can be achieved through facilitating empowerment of persons with lived experience and develop leadership potential, while providing a solid support and engagement structure for emerging mental health lived experience leaders.

Summary of relevant work: 

The GMHPN is built on the premise of an integrated and holistic response to mental health care and services. It incorporates medical, social and human rights models to advocate and promote knowledge on mental health conditions that affect individuals in all aspects of their lives and at all stages of life. This approach critically emphasizes the multidimensional aspects of mental health conditions and societal challenges that cannot be addressed in isolation as a medical problem.

The GMHPN strongly supports and advocates a person-centered and recovery approach to mental health care and services. It is challenging the paradigm of medical traditions and institutional care models that have subjected individuals with mental health conditions to severe human rights violations, developed structures of societal segregation, and denied the inherent human dignity and voice of this community.

Although the approach to mental health has evolved over time and deinstitutionalisation has been successfully implemented in several countries, there remains a critical lack of transformation that still inhibits large populations from adequately accessing appropriate community-based and evidence-based interventions. This is due, in large part, to the lack of political commitment. However, a strong, vibrant, and committed movement of persons with lived experience has successfully started to challenge these systematic abuses, serving at the forefront of a worldwide advocacy agenda to drive change.

Key partners: 

Ember IIMHL Recovery IPSS Reconnect (UAE) Speak Your Mind GMHAN


Open Society Foundations

Seeking collaboration with: 
Other organizations
Experts by experience/service users
Policy makers