Global Mental Health
In low- and middle-income countries, mental health and substance abuse are very poorly resourced, with millions of people unable to get the help they need. It is estimated that 75% of people in low-income countries affected by mental, neurological, and substance use disorders do not have access to the treatment they need. In 2009, the World Health Organisation established the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) aimed at scaling up services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders around the world – but especially those with low- and middle-incomes. In 2011, mhGAP released the first practical guidelines for front line workers in non-specialised care settings about treating depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, dementia and other common mental health problems.
Awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing and the barriers that many people face has been gaining momentum and in 2015, mental health and substance abuse were added as a UN Sustainable Development Goal, marking international recognition of the importance of mental wellbeing in the global development agenda. World leaders committed to ‘prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases, including behavioural, developmental and neurological disorders, which constitute a major challenge for sustainable development’.
Source: World Health Organisation mhGAP and Mental Health SDGs
The Centre for Global Mental Health & Primary Care Research is a collaboration between King’s College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and aims to help close the treatment gap for people living with mental disorders by increasing the coverage of cost-effective interventions. The Centre is a leading provider of research supporting capacity building in policy, prevention, treatment and care of mental illness worldwide, authoring or supporting high-impact publications from intergovernmental organisations like WHO.
Research interests and partnerships
Below are just some of the areas of interest and partnerships of the Centre for Global Mental Health & Population Research. Full details of all their projects are available on their webpages (link at bottom on this page).
10/66 Dementia Research Group
Founded in 1998, the 10/66 Dementia Research Group is a collective of researchers carrying out carrying out population-based research into dementia, non-communicable diseases and ageing in low- and middle-income countries. The name 10/66 refers to the two-thirds (66%) of people with dementia in these countries and the 10% or less of population-based research that has been carried out in those regions. The group is part of Alzheimer's Disease International, and is co-ordinated from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and led by Professor Martin Prince.
Current projects underway include 10/66 ten years on: Life2Years, funded by the European Research Council, which focuses on monitoring and improving health expectancy by targeting frailty among older people in middle-income countries. The study will involve cohorts from Mexico, Peru, China, Cuba, Puerto Rica and Venezuela and looks to improve understanding of the contribution of frailty to dependence and disability.
The EMERALD project (emerging mental health systems in low- and middle-income countries) brings together collaborators from Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa & Uganda, with the objective to identify key barriers to effective delivery of mental health services and offer solutions for their delivery. EMERALD aims addresses the following key issues: to establish adequate, fair and sustainable resourcing, integrated provision of physical and mental health, and improved coverage of care. Achievements of the project so far include:
- Capacity building: Training materials for three master’s modules with 28 courses have been developed, as well as short courses for researchers, policy makers and planners, and a workshop for service users and caregivers.
- Sustainable resourcing: A mental health module which includes training materials and a user manual have been developed for the OneHealth tool, the software designed by the UN to inform national strategic health planning within countries.
- Dissemination: EMERALD’s findings and activities have been disseminated through various channels including a project website; social media; press conferences; press releases; symposia at academic conferences and meetings.
The Programme for Improving Mental Health Care is a consortium of research institutions and Ministries of Health generating research evidence for the implementation and scaling up of treatment programmes for priority mental health disorders in areas with scant resources. Led by the University of Cape Town, PRIME’s cross-country research is co-ordinated by Dr Charlotte Hanlon in the IoPPN at King’s. PRIME is a six year programme which is divided into three phases: Inception, Implementation and is now in its third phase of Scaling Up. Since 2011, the consortium have released over 40 publications, the most recent focusing on situational analysis of maternal mental health in low- and middle-income countries.
To see a full list of who we collaborate with in the area of global mental health, please see our Partners [insert hyperlink] and Funders [insert hyperlink] webpages.
Making an impact
Global Observatory for Ageing and Dementia Care
Established in 2013, the Global Observatory for Ageing and Dementia Care is a project from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group. Building upon the Group’s programme of research in low and middle income countries, the Observatory aims to develop, evaluate, and promote primary care and community interventions for people with dementia and to synthesise global evidence for policymakers and public. Since 2009, the Observatory has published high impact evidence-based World Alzheimer Reports for Alzheimer’s Disease International.
The Friendship Bench
Using a cognitive behavioural therapy based approach, the Friendship Bench Project in Zimbabwe is reducing the treatment gap on a primary care level to address kufungisisa – the local term for depression literally translated into ‘thinking too much’. Patients visiting primary care clinics are screened with a locally validated tool – the Shona Symptom Questionnaire (SSQ) – with those who score appropriately are referred to the Friendship Bench where they will receive individual problem solving therapy from a specially trained lay health worker. Training lay health workers for the project is a sustainable option for countries such as Zimbabwe, which suffer from a lack of mental health specialists. Assessed after 6 months, the prevalence of depression was less than 10% among roughly 250 Friendship Bench participants versus roughly one-third in a control group of similar size. The full study is expected to be published shortly.
Education and training
- MSc Global Mental Health
- PhD in an area of Global Mental Health
- Summer School - Global Mental Health - Research and Action
Find out more about the Centre for Global Mental Health & Population Research
05 July 2017