Leading experts on public mental health at STIAS-Wallenberg Roundtable

24 February 2014

Some of the world’s leading experts on public mental health will participate in the second STIAS-Wallenberg  Roundtable that takes place at the STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre on Monday and Tuesday 24 and 25 February 2014. Among them are Pamela Collins, Abdallah Daar, Mary Ellsberg, James Gilligan, David Ndetei and Shekhar Saxena (for more information, see below).

STIAS Roundtables are organised to create a forum for discussion where researchers can meet policy makers, practitioners, business and industry and the social sector. The idea is to foster dialogue and understanding amongst all involved in the provision of services, including the intended beneficiaries.

The theme of this year’s Roundtable is Mental Health challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa – moving to implementation. The Roundtable will examine ways in which this region’s public mental health challenges can be met in the next twenty to thirty years.

During the last decade, an increased awareness developed not only of the substantial contribution of mental, neurological and substance use disorders to the global burden of disease – estimated at 14% – but also of the fact that mental health is one of the most underserved areas of health care.

In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced several programmes, one of which is the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP), an action plan to scale up services for mental disorders, especially for countries with low and lower middle incomes.

Following the WHO guidelines, several countries in Africa, including South Africa, developed mental health action plans or “road maps” to improve mental health care.

The focus of the STIAS Mental Health Roundtable is on the efforts of governments, professionals, non-profit organizations, charities and funders of research to implement the guidelines and to build partnerships for meaningful collective action. The programme and all other information about the concept of the Roundtable, directions to the venue, etc., can be found under “Events” on the STIAS website at STIAS-Wallenberg Roundtable.

The final session of the STIAS Roundtable, from 16:00 to 17:30 on Tuesday 25 February will take the form of a Panel discussion that will be open to the public and the press. (Attendance at the rest of the Roundtable is by invitation only; for enquiries, see below).

Some leading international experts in global mental health will participate in the Roundtable, among whom (in alphabetical order) –

Dr. Pamela Y. Collins Director, Office for Research on Disparities & Global Mental Health, and the Office of Rural Mental Health Research at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. Studied cultural psychiatry and applied medical anthropology as a research fellow in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Conducted training of health care providers in mental health and HIV/AIDS transmission, prevention, and counselling in Argentina, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda and South Africa. In South Africa, dr Collins’s research examined the role of mental health care providers in the development of HIV prevention interventions in psychiatric settings. She continues to study the integration of HIV and mental health services in sub-Saharan Africa.

Abdallah Daar, Professor of Public Health Sciences of the University of Toronto and a STIAS fellow. Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board, Grand Challenges Canada. Member, United Nations Scientific Advisory Board. After attending medical schools in Uganda and London, England, Prof Daar attended the University of Oxford, where he completed postgraduate clinical training in surgery and also in internal medicine, a doctorate in transplant immunology, and a fellowship in organ transplantation.His major research focus is on the use of life sciences to ameliorate global health inequities, with a particular focus on building scientific capacity and increasing innovation in developing countries, in addition to studying how technologies can be rapidly taken from ”lab to village.”

Dr Mary Ellsberg, Director: Global Women’s Institute, George Washington University. Earned a doctorate in epidemiology and public health from Umeå University in Sweden and a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies from Yale University. Lived in Nicaragua for nearly 20 years, leading public health and women’s rights advocacy. Member of the core research team of WHO’s Multi-Country Study on Domestic Violence and Women’s Heath. Has written more than 20 books and articles on gender-based violence and methodological aspects of violence research.

James Gilligan, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Adjunct Professor, School of Law
and Collegiate Professor, School of Arts and Science, New York University. Former faculty member at Harvard Medical School, where he worked from 1966 to 2000. In 1977 he became the Director of the Harvard Institute of Law and Psychiatry. Best known for his series of books entitled Violence, where he draws on 25 years of work in the American prison system. Worked as adviser to the prosecutorial staff of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in support of their argument that the systematic mass rapes of “enemy” women (and men) that occur in wartime should be re-defined in the law as war crimes and crimes against humanity.

David Ndetei, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Nairobi, Kenya and founder and Director of the Africa Mental Health Foundation, a non-governmental organization dedicated to research for evidence-based policy, practice in and promotion of mental and neurological health and healthy behaviour. He also founded the Nairobi Psychotherapy Institute, which promotes psychotherapy in Kenya. He was trained in Kenya and in London at the Institute of Psychiatry, Guy’s Hospital and the Institute of Psychotherapy. His special interest is in operational research on the common clinical issues in Kenya and development of mental health policies for Kenya.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director: Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO, Geneva. Psychiatrist by training, with about 30 years of experience in research and programme management, service delivery and information systems in the areas of mental health and neurological disorders, especially in low- and middle-income countries. One of the writers of the World Health Report 2001 on mental health. Editor and author, Lancet Series on Global Mental Health 2007 and Lancet Series on Global Mental Health 2011. Responsible for implementation of WHO’s mental health Gap Action Programme. Addressed World Economic Forum in 2012.

Enquiries: Johann Groenewald, [email protected]   or
Dannielle Schellingerhout, [email protected]


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