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Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health

NAMHC Concept Clearance

Presenter

Pamela Y. Collins, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Office for Research on Disparities & Global Mental Health (ORDGMH)
Director, Office of Rural Mental Health Research

Goal

This initiative aims to support innovative research that will generate the major scientific advances needed to make a significant impact on the lives of people living with neuropsychiatric disorders worldwide. The research supported will address barriers that, if removed, will have a significant impact on the prevention and treatment of mental disorders worldwide.

Rationale

The World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease Study identifies neuropsychiatric disorders as being responsible for 13 percent of the total global disease burden.i Moreover, across the world, the treatment gap (i.e., the difference between the number of people suffering from mental, neurological and substance use (MNS) disorders and the number who actually receive the treatment they need) for MNS disorders is large and leads to chronic disabilities and increased mortality. Yet despite the suffering and disability these disorders cause, relatively few resources are allocated worldwide to fund the necessary research to prevent and treat neuropsychiatric disorders effectively.

This initiative builds upon previous priority-setting exercises to identify what stands in the way of progress in neuropsychiatric research worldwide. The term ‘global mental health’ underscores the cross-national influences on neuropsychiatric disorders and relates the shared responsibility for promoting mental health in all countries. Its core focus on equity strives to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate health inequalities between and within countries.

The goal of this initiative is to support innovative research that will generate the major scientific advances needed to make a significant impact on the lives of people living with neuropsychiatric disorders worldwide. This initiative encourages research that uses a life course perspective to ensure that research questions address the natural evolution of mental disorders and the prevention and treatment issues relevant specifically to children, adults, and the elderly.

Scientific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Research examining the interaction between physical and mental health in producing patterns of disparities: Increase the knowledge base on the role of treatment and prevention of mental disorders bearing in mind the global demographic and epidemiologic trends that demonstrate the growing prevalence of non-communicable disease worldwide;
  • Cross-national comparisons of treatment delivery models for MNS disorders: Test the effectiveness of treatment delivery models in different countries to identify mechanisms that facilitate delivery, improve outcomes, and foster broad uptake of interventions in a variety of settings; and
  • Creation of a mental health tool kit for integration into broader health interventions for children in conflict settings: Develop a mental health component (with evidence-based interventions) that non-specialist health workers in conflict settings can integrate into public health interventions alongside other components aimed at improving the health and well-being of children affected by conflict.

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i World Health Organization. (2005). World Health Organization preventing chronic diseases: A vital investment.