Global Mental Health
There can be ‘no health without mental health’ yet most of the world’s hundreds of millions of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders lack access to even basic healthcare. Global Mental Health is the discipline concerned with addressing this public health crisis. In 2009, King’s launched a joint Centre for Global Mental Health (CGMH) in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Our vision is to be a world leading centre fostering research and capacity building in policy, prevention, treatment and care. While access to affordable, effective treatment is a problem in all world regions, the focus of the Centre’s work is mainly on poorer countries, where health systems are greatly under-resourced, and populations particularly under-served.
In 2009, the World Health Organisation launched the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) aimed at scaling up services for priority MNS, and in 2011, the first practical guidelines for front line workers in non-specialised care settings to manage depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, dementia and other common mental health problems. King’s CGMH researchers have supported this process in collaboration with University of Cape Town, LSHTM and partners in South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Malawi, India and Nepal. The research includes; the design, implementation and evaluation of district level community mental health programmes (PRIME); policy and system research to identify health system barriers to, and solutions for, the scaled-up delivery of mental health services (EMERALD); trials of task-shifted care for psychosis and antenatal depression (AFFIRM), depression in HIV (COBALT and TENDAI), and the ‘Friendship Bench’ problem solving therapy administered by lay healthcare workers in Zimbabwe. The work of the 10/66 Dementia Research Group on ageing, dementia, and non-communicable diseases is based mainly in middle-income countries, comprising epidemiological surveys, health system and health service research. Building upon this research programme, the Global Observatory for Ageing and Dementia Care aims to synthesise global evidence for policymakers and public, publishing annual high impact evidence-based World Alzheimer Reports for Alzheimer’s Disease International.
Recent interdisciplinary major programmes include an important component of work on mental health. In the ASSET NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Health System Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa, we shall be seeking to improve the processes and outcomes of integrated primary healthcare, focussing on the comorbidity between common mental disorders and physical health conditions in sites in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In RH4C-MENA we shall be working on capacity-building for mental health research in four conflict-affected countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
All CGMH collaborative programs include a prominent capacity building component. In sub-Saharan Africa, King’s and LSHTM are partners in the Wellcome Trust funded Zimbabwe-led AMARI DELTAS programme working to build sustainable mental health research capacity across four sub-Saharan African countries.