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GMH Newsletter Featured Topics – May/June 2022

We are excited to announce that the UW Global Mental Health Program is now the UW Consortium for Global Mental Health!

The University of Washington Consortium for Global Mental Health is an organized research unit whose mission is to provide a collaborative community for global research, capacity-building, learning, and implementation of culturally congruent, sustainable community models for mental health interventions with domestic and international partners.

Why a Consortium?

Several centers across the university community share our interest in global mental health and cultural mental health needs in our region, specifically. The Consortium encourages collaboration among individuals and among centers, leveraging the experiences and capacities of multiple groups and expanding our potential for impact on mental health.

The UW Consortium for Global Mental Health is a joint effort of the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Global Health.   Current members of the Consortium include the  University of Washington Behavioral Research Center for HIV (BIRCH), the University of Washington AIMS Center, and the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH).

Are you interested in joining us?

We invite faculty and staff as well as programs, centers, and initiatives to become members. We value the participation of students and trainees in our research, practice, and educational activities.

Global Mental Health News

Launch of the World Mental Health Report: Transforming mental health for all

Just over 20 years ago, the 2001 World Health Report was dedicated to mental health, and many of its conclusions remain relevant today.

Last week, the World Health Organization launched the World Mental Health Report, a comprehensive examination of the what we must do to transform our responses to mental health needs around the world today.

The webcast and report are available here.

Do Anthropologists Have a Role in Addressing Global Mental Health?

Dr. Kathryn Azevedo of the National Center for PTSD at the VA  and several of her colleagues across the US believe that they do.

In Leveraging anthropological expertise to respond to the COVID-19 global mental health syndemic, Dr. Azevedo issues a call for anthropologists to help seek out novel approaches to addressing global mental health needs by contributing to the development of mental health programs, confronting the racialization of Covid-19 alongside marginalized communities, supporting real-time policy making with community responses, and innovating on transparent collaborative research methods through open science.

The group’s call to action highlights the fact that the connection between multiple technology platforms allows anthropologists the opportunity to engage on a global scale which allows them to make more transparent the interrelation of theory and practice while also working to make their methods more accessible to the public.

Why mental health is a priority for action on climate change

A new WHO policy brief highlights important action steps for countries as the mental health impacts of climate change are unequally distributed.  Certain groups are shown to be disproportionately affected depending on factors such as socioeconomic status, gender and age.

“The impact of climate change is compounding the already extremely challenging situation for mental health and mental health services globally. There are nearly 1 billion people living with mental health conditions, yet in low- and middle-income countries, 3 out of 4 do not have access to needed services,” said Dévora Kestel, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “By ramping up mental health and psychosocial support within disaster risk reduction and climate action, countries can do more to help protect those most at risk.”

You can learn more about this topic through the  London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s “Keeping Our Planet In Mind” webinar series which will provide an overview of the current evidence and work areas around climate change and mental health crises. The first three webinars in the series and information about future events can be found here and in the Past Events section.

West Coast Global Mental Health Spotlight

Demand for reproductive mental health resources has spiked during the pandemic

A program through the British Columbia Women’s Hospital and Health Care Centre is taking a holistic approach to helping women with perinatal and postpartum depression and anxiety.

Social isolation and lack of personal and professional support during the pandemic has increased women’s risk of anxiety and depression in pregnancy and postpartum because of: cancelled appointments or prenatal classes, employment stressors or job loss, financial stressors or strain, an increase in relationship conflict and an increase in possible violence in the home, increased responsibilities on parents, especially moms needing to take on extra roles with older children at home due to restrictions without childcare support, and, additionally, just the general fear of COVID-19 over the last two years.

That’s why, [Dr. Karen] Rivera says, developing research initiatives to provide virtual tools and more accessibility for women in British Columbia is so crucial. Reproductive Mental Health offers both medical and non-medical intervention options for people who want to learn more about medication or otherwise. The Reproductive Mental Health program offers support and resources to women who are pregnant or up to one year postpartum experiencing these kinds of mental health issues.

Here in Seattle, Dr. Amritha Bhat  confirms this increased demand for reproductive mental health treatment.  She shares that clinical service, educational, and research efforts have been ramped up to meet this pressing need.  A key area of research focuses on texting, which has been useful in mitigating pandemic-induced social isolation.  Dr. Bhat is studying peer mentor texting to support maternal wellbeing during the perinatal period.


Dr. Ian Bennett has also observed this increased need and notes that he is engaged in several projects designed to build capacity to address perinatal mental disorders. In Washington State, Dr. Bennett leads the Maternal Mental Health Access (MAMHA) project, designed to enhance the capacity to address the risk of suicide and opioid overdose in pregnancy and the year postpartum.   Drs. Bennett  and Bhat are also working  on a similar five year project in California, the Los Angeles Maternal Mental Access (LAMMHA). This project studies the implementation of Collaborative Care in Federally Qualified Health Centers in Los Angeles, which provide care for large numbers of women in pregnancy and pediatric services.

Pregnancy can be a stressful time even in the best circumstances, but the impact of the pandemic has contributed to a dramatic increase in this stress.  Normal sources of support for pregnant women – be it from family members or mental health professionals – were much more difficult to access due to lockdown restrictions and the generalized impact of a global event on health systems.  Projects like the programs in Vancouver, Washington, and California illustrate how institutions in the Pacific Northwest are responding to ensure that every woman receives support when she needs it.

Global Mental Health Opportunities

Call for Papers: PLOS Medicine Special Issue on the COVID-19 Pandemic and Global Mental Health

Deadline: 15 July 2022

The editors of PLOS Medicine together with Guest Editors Vikram Patel, Daisy Fancourt, Toshi A Furukawa, and Lola Kola announce a forthcoming special issue devoted to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global mental health.

For the purposes of the Special Issue, the term mental health is used in a multidisciplinary sense. Studies across disciplines including psychiatry and psychology, neuroscience, behavioral, developmental, and social science will all be considered, as will others that present a clinically meaningful advance. Please visit the link for more details.

The NIMH Center for Global Health Research Webinar Series continues!  Find the monthly event calendar here.

Join NIMH on Tuesday, July 26th from 9:30am – 11:00am ET to learn more about research career development awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for early career scientists in global mental health. Attendees will learn about the various career development awards that are available through NIH for early career scientists, including Ks from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Fogarty International Center, and diversity supplements. They will also hear from currently funded early career scientists. The event will be recorded and posted online at a later date.


Susannah Allison, Ph.D.
Training Director
National Institute of Mental Health