GEDE at the World Bank Group /World Health Organization Meetings- April 13-14, 2016, Washington DC, USA

A historic event in mental health took place today. WBG and WHO are ‘co-hosting a high-level event to bring mental health from the periphery to the center of the global development agenda.’ For participants who have, for many decades, worked towards access to mental health care, particularly for the poor and marginalized sectors of society, this occasion was a dream come true.

Why would WBG be interested in mental health, one wonders. Poverty reduction, one of WBG’s mandates, will be difficult to achieve without mental wellness. The Bank is challenged by the fact that many government leaders turn a blind eye to mental health issues because of the stigma attached to it. But, WBG can now argue that based on the most recent volume of the Disease Control Priorities (DCP3) published and launched at the event today, “investing in treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a fourfold return.”

The Innovations Fair showcased promisingtreatment pathways that addressed common and severe mental disorders within the cultural contexts of the countries where they were conducted.Representatives from leading organizations, such as BasicNeeds, The Friendship Bench, MANAS, University of Ibadan/EMERALD Project, StrongMinds, Thinking Healthy, shared not only the creative ways that they have addressed mental health problems, but also their passion and their enthusiasm to find ways to improve people’s mental health.


At the high-level opening session Dr. Jim Yong Kim, WBG President, delivering the keynote statement, announced his commitment for the integration of mental health into the primary health care system; Dr. Margaret Chan (WHO Director-General) emphasized that inclusion of people with mental illness in the communities, Dr. Arthur Kleinman (Harvard University) emphasized that current evidence shows mental illness to be treatable, important, and cost effective; William Morneau (Canada’s Finance Minister) shared his country’s emphasis on workplace standards; Mustapha Kaloko (African Union Commissioner) enumerated the challenges faced by African countries; Alan Bollard (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation/APEC Executive Director) shared best practices from countries like Peru; and Jen Hyatt strongly recommended the use of technology in mental health.

I am very fortunate to have attended today’s events, to share (and to be inspired by) the enthusiasm and the passion of fellow researchers and advocates who continue to bring light into the lives of people who live under the shadow of mental illness.

Watch out for more blogs about the meetings!

 - Dr. Cynthia J. Ticao – Performance Director, Research & Advocacy -