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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

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Global Mental Health and Human Mobility Research Program


This program supports research on the increasing mental health challenges faced by mobile populations at all stages of migration. Human mobility is broadly defined as human movement, as individuals or groups, including both long-term migration and/or short-term travel. Examples include livelihood mobility, displacement, household fluidity, rural to urban migrations, and involuntary mobility such as trafficking for sexual exploitation or forced labor. Mobile populations may experience a wide range of traumatic events that disrupt their lives, ability to earn income, safety and overall well-being. These events range from religious and/or ethnic conflict, war, genocide, famine, extreme weather events, sexual and gender-based violence, and infectious diseases. In the wake of such events individuals often find it too dangerous to stay in their homes and choose to find refuge elsewhere. Mobile populations may experience a host of stressors and social and structural determinants (e.g., inadequate food and housing, stigma, discrimination, and poor linkage to healthcare services) that may negatively affect mental health and mental wellbeing at all stages of migration. This program seeks to develop assessment tools, preventives, interventions, and implementation strategies to better understand and improve mental health outcomes in people who are in transition or may have relocated to temporary humanitarian housing or new, permanent housing particularly in low resource settings.

Areas of Emphasis:

  • Conduct epidemiological studies to identify the incidence, prevalence, and natural history of mental illness in highly mobile populations and/or emergency humanitarian settings throughout the lifespan.
  • Develop reliable and validated mental health assessments specific to the experiences and mental health needs of mobile populations.
  • Identify the mechanisms or targets and develop and test corresponding preventive and treatment interventions for:
    • mechanisms and pathways by which mobility contributes to mental health disorders, and
    • modifiable targets of social and structural determinants of mental health disorders in the context of mobility.
  • Examine the effects of comorbid health issues on mental health, quality of life, treatment outcomes, etc. for mental health disorders in mobile populations and develop and test novel preventive and treatment interventions.
  • Develop or adapt and test mental health interventions for mental health disorders which are sensitive to the context of the population’s characteristics.
    • Studies should be conducted with stakeholder input, to include members of the study population.
  • Identify predictors of linkage to mental health care and develop and test strategies to modify these factors to improve linkage in mobile populations.
  • Assess barriers to utilization of mental health services (e.g., cultural competency of providers, language barriers, affordability, international border procedures and policies, etc.) and develop strategies to improve mental health care utilization.
  • Conduct implementation science research to optimize the sustainable adoption and implementation of evidence-based mental health interventions in the unique living environments where mobile populations travel and/or live.
    • Studies should include stakeholder input, such as from members of the study population, local implementers, and governments.


Holly Campbell-Rosen, PhD
5601 Fishers Lane