Mark van Ommeren

Job role: 
Head, Mental Health Unit, Department of Mental Health and Substance Use
Member type: 
Policy Maker
Practitioner/Implementer
Researcher
Brief Biography: 

Mark van Ommeren, PhD, is Head of the Mental Health Unit within the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Use. The Unit covers a wide range of topics including suicide prevention, services across the life course, mental health education, psychological interventions, essential medicines, and mental health in humanitarian emergencies and at the workplace. He coordinated the writing of the WHO (2022) World Mental Health Report: Transforming Mental Health for All.

Much of Mark’s earlier work has focused on initiating and developing inter-agency mental health policy for humanitarian settings (e.g., Sphere standards, IASC guidelines) with linked implementation tools; developing, testing and disseminating a range of scalable psychological interventions; and “building back better” mental health services across different levels of the health system after major emergencies. As part of this work, he introduced the term “mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS)” into the development of inter-agency humanitarian guidelines, which has resulted in improved collaboration across sectors in humanitarian settings around the world.

Born and raised in the Netherlands, he studied at the University of British Columbia (BSc in statistics (1992) and MA in (intercultural) counselling psychology (1995)) and received his doctorate (covering culture-informed epidemiology of mental disorders among refugees in Nepal) from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (2000).

Regions of interest: 
Africa
Middle East
North America
Central America and the Caribbean
South America
Asia
Europe
Oceania
Population: 
Children and adolescents
Adults
Families and carers
Humanitarian and conflict health
Country: 
Switzerland

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My contributions

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Early Adolescent Skills for Emotions (EASE): a psychological intervention for young adolescents and their caregivers

EASE is a group psychological intervention delivered by non-specialist providers to improve the mental health of adolescents.
Region: 
Africa
Middle East
Asia
Population: 
Children and adolescents
Disorder: 
All disorders
4989 reads
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New WHO prevalence estimates of mental disorders in conflict settings

This systematic review details new WHO prevalence estimates on depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia in conflict-affected settings.
Page type: 
Research summaries and systematic reviews
Approach: 
Human rights
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Focused psychosocial interventions for children in low-resource humanitarian settings

This systematic review is the first study that systematically assessed randomised controlled trials on focused psychosocial support interventions for children exposed to traumatic events in humanitarian settings in low-income countries.
Page type: 
Research summaries and systematic reviews
Approach: 
Human rights
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Self-Help Plus (SH+): a guided multimedia psychosocial self-help package

A multimedia self-help package delivered by facilitators with minimal training.
Region: 
Africa
Middle East
Europe
Population: 
Adults
Humanitarian and conflict health
Disorder: 
Depression/anxiety/stress-related disorders
Alcohol/drug use disorders
10439 reads
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Step-by-step: e-mental health in Lebanon

An evidence-based WHO self-help psychological intervention that can be delivered through the internet.
Region: 
Middle East
Population: 
Adults
Humanitarian and conflict health
Disorder: 
Depression/anxiety/stress-related disorders
8809 reads
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Mental Health Among Displaced People and Refugees

Technical note from the World Bank Group, making the case for action to meet the mental health needs of displaced people and refugees
Page type: 
Policy and advocacy
Approach: 
Human rights
Advocacy
Training, education and capacity building
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Problem Management Plus (PM+)

Developing and testing a WHO brief, face-to-face, low-intensity, transdiagnostic psychological intervention.
Region: 
Africa
Asia
Disorder: 
Depression/anxiety/stress-related disorders
10205 reads
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The Chesmal Siriwardhana Memorial Lecture 2022

This is a webinar to commemorate and honour the life and work of Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana who was an Associate Professor in Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The webinar focuses on Mental Health and Psychosocial Supports in Humanitarian Settings: Lessons Learned.
Contributor(s): 
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Evidence in the face of adversity: studying psychological interventions in humanitarian settings

Communities affected by adversity, including those facing challenges caused by major humanitarian emergencies, need effective psychological interventions but there is a lack of practical and available tools to help large numbers of people.
Author(s): 
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Protecting the most vulnerable: Supporting people with mental disorders during disasters

The issues to be discussed and debated during the World Humanitarian Summit are all worthy, however we must not let the special needs of people with mental disorders get lost.
Author(s): 
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How to build better mental health systems after emergencies

In this podcast Dr Mark Van Ommeren, WHO focal point for mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies discuss the World Health Organization report, Building Back Better: sustainable mental health care after emergencies.
Contributor(s): 
Approach: 
Human rights
Training, education and capacity building
Disorder: 
All disorders