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GMH Newsletter Featured Topics – October 2021

Dr. Bradley Wagenaar awarded R01 to study an innovative approach to the mental health care cascade in Mozambique

Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide, yet treatment gaps exceed 90% in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Considerable progress is being made in access to mental healthcare through task-shifting to lower-level healthcare providers. While task-sharing may increase access to care, little existing global mental health work is focused on improving the quality of routinely delivered mental healthcare in LMICs.

Dr. Bradley Wagenaar, a UW MH faculty member, is looking to address this urgent need for evidence-based strategies to optimize the MH care cascade globally. Dr. Wagenaar was recently awarded an R01 from NIMH to implement a study using an innovative approach to the “mental health care cascade” where he has outlined the linked steps a patient must go through to achieve the final goal of improved function.

This attention to the multiple steps linked to care is important as strategies focused on one step in a care cascade can contribute to unintended system bottlenecks and quality of care issues. By contrast, the Systems Analysis and Improvement Approach (SAIA) is a multicomponent implementation strategy focused on optimizing quality across an entire care cascade. SAIA blends facilitation and collaborative clinician team meetings with systems-engineering tools in a 5-step approach developed for task-shared providers. The funded R01 project will also analyze mechanisms of action that explain the impact of a multi-component strategy to inform how these strategies can optimally be delivered across various settings. If effective, the SAIA-MH implementation strategy has a large potential to be rapidly scaled-up to decrease gaps in task-shared MH treatments globally.

Sustainability of the interventions and building local capacity are key aims of this project. Dr. Wagenaar’s team has worked to integrate the project within the Mozambican Ministry of Health (MoH), and implementation will be led by a local Mozambican organization. They will partner with investigators and providers in the MoH to deliver care within routine government clinics. This approach centers around supporting providers on the front lines and government to effectively integrate mental healthcare into primary care.

Global Mental Health Opportunities

Dr. Melanie Abas, Professor of Global Mental health at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, King’s College London, has two full-time, four year openings in her department.  The roles are Research Project Manager and Research Project Administrator.  The project is a Global Health Research Group on Depression and Anxiety in African Countries – “African Youth in Mind”, led by Dr. Abas and Dr. Dixon Chibanda.  The Research Project Manager position is an excellent opportunity for someone with some research experience and a real interest in low-intensity psychological interventions.  Visas can be sponsored if the chosen candidate holds a PhD or close equivalent.

Local and Global Mental Health Updates

  • The Africa Global Mental Health Institute (AGMHI) is excited to host the  4th African Diaspora Global Mental Health Virtual Conference.  The conference will take place via Zoom on 4-5 November 2021. This conference brings together mental health professionals from around the world to address ongoing global mental health challenges and to accelerate the development of solutions for Africa and the diaspora. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Defining A New Normal” as it relates to COVID-19 and the violence and trauma experienced by marginalized communities globally.  Sign up here to register for the conference at no cost.
  • The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) is producing a special issue “Mental health Care among At-Risk Populations in the Context of Covid-19”.  Researchers, practitioners, and educators are invited to submit manuscripts related to any area of mental health care among at-risk populations in the context of COVID-19. Papers can focus on community-based interventions and/or policy. The call is open now and runs through October 2022.
  • On October 5th — 6th, the 3rd Global Mental Health Summit was held in Paris.  The goal of the Summit was to prompt international efforts to promote mental health, to defend an approach that respects the dignity of people and their human rights, and to increase the sharing of positive experiences that speed up the evolution of psychiatric and mental health practices.  Even though improving mental health and wellbeing are included in the sustainable development goals, only around 2% of the global healthcare budget is currently allocated to mental health.  Learn more about the summit and watch several of the plenary sessions here.
  • World Mental Health Day was October 10thThe 2021 theme of “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality” was chosen in part to reflect the significant impact that COVID-19 has had across populations.  Although the day has passed, the WHO has developed useful materials to guide advocacy for mental health programming including key messages and the Mental Health Atlas (2020).
  • The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) published a report on the Global Prevalence and Burden of Depressive and Anxiety Disorders in 204 Countries and Territories in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic in The Lancet. A systematic review of data between January 2, 2020 and January 29, 2021 was used to determine the extent to which lower human mobility and larger daily COVID-19 infection rates led to increased prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders. Key findings included: females and youth were impacted more than males and seniors and countries hit hardest by the pandemic in 2020 experienced the greatest increase in major depressive disorders and anxiety disorders.
  • University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Grand Rounds – October 29, 12pm – 1pm, PDT – Partnering with Black Churches to Promote Mental Health Equity – Dr. Sidney Hankerson, Columbia University Webinar Link: Passcode: 461403

Global Mental Health Funding Opportunities

  • UW Behavioral Research Center for HIV – The UW BIRCH Integrated Care Core is calling for applications to the Community-Centered Pilot AIDS Research Center grant. Applications are due December 1, 2021. The award is $40,000. Applicants must be a current member of the UW faculty or a PI-eligible research scientist at UW. Eligible proposals must demonstrate that viewpoints of the end-users of the research have been integrated into the proposed activities (e.g. members of key populations, community-based HIV service providers, clinicians, etc.) For more information please contact
  • National Institute of Mental HealthIn addition to acute care, mental illnesses ranging from mild psychological distress to serious mental illness often require a chronic disease management approach. Chronic disease management seeks to achieve symptom recovery, return the patient to an optimal functional baseline, and prevent relapse and recurrence. Achieving these goals requires a careful balance between hospital and outpatient-based care and between medication-based and psychosocial interventions. This request for applications, Effectiveness and Implementation Research for Post-Acute Interventions to Optimize Long-Term Mental Health Outcomes in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (R34 Clinical Trial Optional), seeks research applications for effectiveness and implementation science on the post-acute (long-term or chronic) management of mental health conditions.
  • Grand Challenges Canada The Global Mental Health program has launched its second round of funding. Seed grants of up to $250,000 CAD are available for innovations that seek to enhance mental health literacy and/or provide youth-friendly services to address the mental health needs of the most underserved young people, aged 10 – 24, in low- and middle-income countries. Innovations must take a person centered, rights-based approach, and must involve young people and young people with lived experiences of mental health challenges from the outset. Priority will go to youth-led organizations, defined as organizations in which fifty percent (50%) or more of the individuals in key leadership positions are youth 35 years of age or under.