There are 350 million people with mental, neurological and substance use conditions in the world. The vast majority of these people live in low and middle income countries (LMICs), where around 85% of people with mental health conditions are unable to access services. It is in this context that Global Mental Health has emerged as an academic discipline and field of practice to reduce inequities in social determinants of mental health, and access to care around the world.
Due to a scarcity of resources in LMICs in the global south, higher income countries predominantly in the global north, have taken the lead to address the burden of mental health in poor resource settings. While steady progress has been made in addressing the treatment gap, the global mental health movement has been overshadowed by a critique that it lacks inclusion of the global south.
This symposium starts from a point of critiquing the dominance of the global north in research, in policy frameworks, and in education and training. A central theme was exploring how knowledge systems can be democratised to meaningfully integrate a broader range of perspectives. For this to be achieved, a greater understanding must be sought on how to effectively translate evidenced-based findings to diverse contexts, and facilitate the participation of people who are affected by the proposed services and interventions of Global Mental Health.
Traditional structures of knowledge transfer from the global north to the global south should also be challenged to create a bi-directional flow of knowledge between the regions. High income settings have much to learn from low income settings as well as in the other direction. This symposium explored practical and innovative ways of rebalancing power to pave the way for a new era of cooperation in the field of mental health.
- Devora Kestel (World Health Organization)
- Peter Piot (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)
- Yemi Rosa Demiyanti (Indonesian Mental Health Association)
- Julian Eaton (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine & CBM)
- Bonnie Evans (Queen Mary University)
- Brother Jimi Huayta-Rivera (Fracarita International)
- Victor Ugo (Mentally Aware Nigeria)
Key themes covered in the evening:
- Experience from other fields in how people affected by public health interventions have been engaged in processes of change
- How research and practice in the field of Global Mental Health can better reflect the target communities that are the focus of much of the work
- How people with lived experience, women, young people, indigenous peoples and other traditionally marginalized groups can have a bigger impact on global health priorities
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (London, United Kingdom) is renowned for its research, postgraduate studies and continuing education in public and global health. In 2019, LSHTM is celebrating its 120 year anniversary, with an international presence and collaborative ethos, it is uniquely placed to help shape health policy and translate research findings into tangible impact. The mission of LSHTM is to improve health and health equity in the UK and worldwide.
Fracarita International (Brugge, Belgium) is a not-for-profit organisation of the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity working in Latin America, Africa and Asia. It exercises this task in line with the mission of the Brothers of Charity especially in the lives of the most vulnerable people through concrete works of charity in the fields of mental health care, care for people with a disability and education. Fracarita International has more than 200 years of experience in mental health, with an aim to restore the human dignity of thousands of men, women and children by providing mental health care in 30 countries with more than 150 projects.
CBM International is an international non-governmental organisation focusing particularly on disability inclusive development. With experience of over 100 years of working in the poorest communities in the world, CBM had developed mental health programmes in over 20 countries that support system strengthening to close the treatment gap, and promote access to human rights by empowering people affected to have a voice in their own communities.
Funding is also gratefully received from the Embassy of Belgium to the United Kingdom and the Representation of the Flanders Region.