The World Bank Group (WBG)/World Health Organization (WHO) Meetings April 13-14, 2016, Washington DC, USA

Out of the Shadows: Making Mental Health a Global Development Priority

Opening Session and Plenary Panel Discussion: Mental Health in the Global Development Agenda: Challenges and Options

At the Opening Session on Day 2, everyone agreed about how great and historic the first day was – the first discussion ever on mental health at the World Bank headquarters! The morning started with a cool virtual reality documentary about ‘Francis’ whose life as a teacher was disrupted by mental illness, but was later rehabilitated after he was referred for treatment by a friend. As all participants were reminded by a number of panelists and by Dr. Margaret Chan on Day 1, behind the data are real people, so did this film.

And so did the keynote speaker, Patrick Kennedy, former member of the US House of Congress,and lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and having struggled with alcohol addiction, he pushed to ‘make the scope of mental health coverage the same as all the rest of physical health care coverage’ in America.

Nine panel members discussed the challenges and options to including mental health in the global development agenda:

·         Vikram Patel (co-founder of Sangath and co-director of the Centre for Global Mental Health) believes integration can be done through a collaborative model of care;

·         Lawrence Gostin( O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law at Georgetown University) asked why we have done so well with HIV and done so miserably with mental health;

·         ShekharSaxena (WHO Director, Mental Health and Substance Abuse) echoed the same concern for the inclusion of mental health care and its role in disasters;

·         Kay Jamison (Dalio Family Professor in Mood Disorders and Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) emphasized the need for people who get well not to keep quiet because society does not see people who respond well—they only see those who do not do well and the importance of studying non-adherence to medication, particularly in young people;

·         MuraliDoraiswamy (Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University and Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Brain Research) pointed to three areas that need to be address—resilience in children, rehabilitation, and research involving public/private partnerships to understand illness and resilience;

·         AryehNeier (President Emeritus, Open Society Foundation) echoed the suggestion of others on Day 1 to use the rights-based approach in mental illness and disability;

·         AkmalTaher (Special Advisor, Ministry of Health of Indonesia) shared funding and stigma challenges in Indonesia;

·         Francesca Colombo (Head, OECD Health Division) underscored the problems of costs and treatment gaps, and espoused the importance of prevention and early intervention.

·         Phillip Campbell (Discussion Moderator and Editor-in-Chief of Nature) reemphasized the point raised by Dr. Margaret Chan at the high-level meeting on Day 1, i.e., teachers and parents have an important role to play in prevention and early detection. Many innovative strategies are being tested globally. He asked the question, “How can we scale up?”

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Dr. Cynthia J. Ticao: Performance Director, Research & Advocacy