Some of the most (cost) effective ways to improve Mental Health and in Low and Middle Income Countries are:
-Free sharing and dissemination of knowledge and tools via the internet
-Concerted global advocacy and innovation activities
-Possibilities for workers service users to connect and network with others
There are a couple of very valuable websites that offer these things. Sites that build bridges between organizations and/or give voice to people in the field. Here is a list of 15 of them.
I will start with the most interactive websites and end with the more static ones:
Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support Network, MHPSS:
The MHPSS network gives worldwide access to people, resources and knowledge related to work in emergencies and situations of adversity. The organization received a Grand Challenges Canada grant for 2 years and with that money they are able to pay global hosts and expand their activities.
In February 2014 there were 2621 members, 1677 resources uploaded, 124 groups and everyday new members and files are added. In March 2014 they launched a brand new site with a chat box and other new features.
You can submit info or questions about events, news and websites, recommend useful tools, articles and approaches. There are news, vacancies, training and events sections as well. You can also send and receive messages from other network members and follow each other. The MHPSS is active on Twitter and has a Facebook page. Very active online community.
Link: IntervoiceOnline.orgThis website is working worldwide to “spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices”. It’s a online community for people who hear voices, but they offer a lot of information as well: blogs, fora, stories, video’s, research, publications, newsletter. You can become a member of their forum, follow them on Twitter, or become a member of their Facebook group (for this link you must log in at Facebook). They organize each year an international Hearing Voices Congress. Last year it was in Melbourne, Australia.
I don’t think you will find the word ‘schizophrenia’ anywhere on this site. The emphasize is more on recovery and empowerment than on hearing voices ‘as a disease’. I featured this site here because it’s a bottom up initiative and the people involved are very active and effective on social media.
Link:PsychCentral.comPsych Central is a community of people dealing with mental health, family, parenting or relationship issues. Their largest community is the Psych Central Community, where you can find 200 self-help support groups. The website is also offering a medication library, blogs, ‘ask the therapist’, a ‘book of the month’ and quizzes/screening tests. You can subscribe for a weekly newsletter and follow them on Twitter (65,8K followers! in February 2014) or Facebook (68.343 likes!).
This site seems thorough and very up to date. You can stroll through the site for hours if you like. Maybe the fora and information are not suitable for workers and users in Low Income Countries. But because it’s so big and successful, and a good example of a thriving and very interactive site, I featured it here. I hope it will give some inspiration to the dormant sites to keep on going.
Movement for Global Mental Health, MGMH:
Link: GlobalMentalHealth.orgThe Movement for Global Mental Health aims to improve services for people with mental disorders worldwide ‘with two main principles: the action should be informed by the best available scientific evidence; and, it should be in accordance with principles of human rights’.
The Movement is a global network of individuals (in February 2014 about 900 members) and institutions (183) who support this mission. People can upload information on the site. There are categories like advocacy, human rights, research, policies, service delivery, They have an image gallery, an forum and monthly e-mail newsletters as well. You can follow the Movement on Twitter and on their Facebook group (but you must be logged in on Facebook to view or join this group).
Their 3rd Global Mental Health Summit was held on 21-22 August 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. Next summit is expected in 2015.
The Secretariat of the MGMH is a rotating role, and is held in 2012-2013 by the Centre for International Mental Health (CIMH) at the University of Melbourne (see below). In 2014-2015 the MGMH Secretariat will be hosted by the Centre for Mental Health, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Principal Coordinator of the Secretariat will be Mr. Jagannath Lamichhane from Nepal Mental Health Foundation.
Mental Health Innovation Network, MHIN:
The MHIN is launched in 2013 and funded by the Grand Challenges Canada. MHIN’s activities are supported by a team of researchers and policy makers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Centre for Global Mental Health (see below) and the World Health Organization’s Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse (see below).
Since 2013 MHIN hosts and maintains an online repository of innovations in global mental health. Providing an overview of each innovation and its impact, the repository is designed to link users directly to tools, publications, and other materials developed by the innovators. Over 50 organizations have shared their innovations on this website to date.
Mid 2014 MHIN launched their full website. As well as a growing repository of innovations, this includes: Communication tools including blogs, webinars, podcasts and opportunities to ask questions to some of the field’s leading experts, generated by and for MHIN’s members; Resources to support researchers, practitioners and policy makers in their work; A space for individuals and organizations working in global mental health to profile their work and interests, and link to resources they have generated and shared with the community.
Membership of this new MHIN website is free, and members can create profiles for themselves or the organizations they represent. A few weeks after the second launch already 160 people signed up as a member and this number is growing fast.
MHIN is active on Twitter and Facebook.
Mental Health Worldwide
Link: MentalHealthWorldwide.comMental Health Worldwide is a global group founded by Linda Lee and dedicated to work together to advocate and increase awareness about mental health and the related issues and conditions. The group is constantly expanding and current members are from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Nepal, The Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and Zambia. The group includes persons impacted by mental health conditions, mental health workers including social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, NGO’s, etc, especially in countries that do not have consumer organizations or NGO’s.
In the quest to end stigma and discrimination Mental Health Worldwide members are positively joined together and support each other. All individuals and organizations with these common goals are welcome to join the group.
There are regular new blogs posted with a special interest in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and international and local events.
Pan African Network of People with Psychosocial Disabilities, PANUSP:
Link: PANUSP.orgPANUSP, now known as the Pan African Network of People with Psychosocial Disabilities, is a collective voice to promote and protect the rights and dignity of people with psychosocial disabilities on the African continent. It was formerly established in 2005 in Kampala, Uganda. The 2nd Congress was held in 2011 in Cape Town and a Declaration was issued that outlines the principles and values of the Network. The network is funded by the Open Society Foundations. The current chair of PANUSP is Robinah Alambuya, from Uganda.
PANUSP has members from various African countries like Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda and Zambia.
The PANUSP website contains resources like materials, publications and declarations regarding the human rights of people with psychosocial disabilities, and a news section. The PANUSP is also active on Facebook and Twitter.
IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support, PS Centre:
Link: pscentre.orgThe International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies Psychological Support Programme emerged in the early 1990s, at a time when an increasing number of National Societies realized that disasters can lead to not just physical but also mental problems in affected populations, and that the traditional way of offering relief in the form of shelter, food and medical care was often not enough. As a result, the Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support (PS Centre) was established in 1993 as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ to support National Societies in promoting and enabling the psychosocial well-being of beneficiaries, staff and volunteers. Hosted by Danish Red Cross and located in Copenhagen, Denmark the Centre is a delegated function of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The PS Centre offers trainings, technical and operational support to National Societies and IFRC technical and operational teams. The centre works in partnership with research institutions and other psychosocial stakeholders, and has a roster group of experts that we can call on for various assignments. The Centre co-leads and cooperates with the global Inter-agency Standing Committee’s (IASCs) reference group for psychosocial support. They are also on the steering committee for the global Mental Health Psychosocial Support network (MHPSS, see above).
On the PS Centre website you can find manuals e.g. on psychosocial support and counseling, reports, training kits, videos, news and more. The Centre issues a very attractive tri-annual magazine ‘Coping with Crisis’, free downloads.
The PS Centre is active on Twitter and Facebook.
Centre for Global Mental Health, London
Link: CentreForGlobalMentalHealth.orgThe Centre for Global Mental Health is a collaboration between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the King’s Health Partners (incorporating King’s College London). The vision of the Centre is to foster research and capacity building in policy, prevention, treatment and care with the ultimate objective of closing the treatment gap for people living with mental, neurological and substance use disorders. Only staff or research degree student at LSHTM or in KHP can become a member, but you can subscribe for the quarterly newsletter or scroll the website for information like resources, articles and links.
They have 30 research projects running in more then 20 countries and they offer a MSc in Global Mental Health, PhD and DrPH training opportunities and short courses as well. You can follow this centre on Twitter.
Centre for International Mental Health, CIMH:
Link: cimh.unimelb.edu.auThe CIMH is part of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Australia. The Centre is dedicated to research and systems development, learning and teaching, and engagement with key stakeholders in the field of mental health, both in Australia and the broader international community.
In its Australian programs, CIMH focuses on the development of effective mental health systems for a culturally and linguistically diverse society and on the strengthening of leadership for mental health system reform. Internationally, the Centre’s focus is on building capacity for mental health systems development in low- and middle-income countries and post-conflict societies. CIMH is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
The Centre continues its ongoing collaboration with multiple academic institutions in low- and middle-income countries and with government departments, civil society organizations and local and international NGOs to support this work. It organizes seminars, conferences, public lectures and workshops. The CIMH is active on Twitter and Facebook and they offer a newsletter as well.
The Gulbenkian Global Mental Health Platform, Lisbon:
Link: Gulbenkianmhplatform.comThe Gulbenkian Global Mental Health Platform is an initiative the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. It will be jointly conducted with the Department of Mental Health of the Faculty of Medical Sciences (NOVA University of Lisbon), with the technical collaboration of the World Health Organization.
The Gulbenkian Global Mental Health Platform’s main goal is to become a key stakeholder in the Global Mental Health community through a number of initiatives supporting the global movement for a UN Summit on Mental Health. To attain this goal, it provides: A coherent contribution to the WHO effort to reduce the treatment gap and scale up mental health services in low and middle income countries; An evidence based contribution to innovative mental health care delivery; Practical guidance for improving mental health care services in low and middle income countries; An independent contribution to the promotion of human rights of people with mental disabilities.
In 2013 the Platform organized an international high-level technical meeting and 2 more will follow in 2014 and 2015.
People are invited to share their (local) activities and knowledge about global mental health using this website. They offer a newsletter and are active on Facebook.
Link: basicneeds.orgBasicNeeds is an UK based organization that was founded in 2000 by Chris Underhill. Their mission is to enable people with mental illness or epilepsy and their families to live and work successfully in their communities by combining health, socio-economic and community orientated solutions with changes in policy, practice and resource allocation. They have country programs in 12 locations including India, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Nepal, Pakistan, Laos, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, South Sudan and Tanzania. To date, BasicNeeds has reached over 589,000 beneficiaries globally.
In 2013 Basicneeds launched their Social Franchise system. This system will support independent organizations, operating predominantly in low or middle income countries, to take on the delivery of the BasicNeeds Model in their territory.
The BasicNeeds website is renewed few months ago and offers blog posts, news, resources like reports and videos and started a newsletter as well. Still the news and their social media activities are mainly about themselves (promotion, crowd funding), but they seek cooperation and partnership with others in the field (see their strategic framework 2014-2018) and they offer manuals and models which others can download for free.
Basicneeds is on Twitter and Facebook.
gbhreview, Global Mental Health News, Radha V. Gholkar:
Link: ghbreview.orgThe creator of GBH Review website is Radha V. Gholkar, Ph.D, a licensed clinical psychologist living in Washington D.C, USA: “I first became interested in international mental behavioral health issues while completing a summer internship in Mumbai, India, where I gained experience in efforts to reduce health disparities among the rural poor. Since then, I continue to be a passionate student of various topics in the field such as disaster mental health, program development, prevention / outreach and program evaluation”.
The goal of this website is to provide a resource center for behavioral health professionals and researchers looking for news articles and other materials broadly related to behavioral health issues in a global context.
You can find a selection of articles on this site in the categories: development, conflict, human rights, disaster, epidemiology and policy.
Radha is active on Twitter as well, and you can sign up for email updates.
The World Health Organization Mental Health programme, WHO:
Link: who.int/mental_health/enWHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.
Part of the WHO Mental Health programme are: the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP); The Mental Health: Evidence and Research team (MER) with the publication of the Mental Health Atlas; Mental Health in Emergencies section; The WHO MiNDbank (More Inclusiveness Needed in Disability and Development, an online platform which brings together a range of country and international resources, covering mental health, substance abuse, disability, general health, human rights and development); A Neurology and Public Health section; A Suicide Prevention section, and much more.
The issue a mhGAP newsletter every few months. They offer posters, flyers, fact sheets, video’s and a lot of books and publications in several languages. All publications are open access or can be bought in the WHO bookshop.
World Federation for Mental Health, WFMH:
Link: WFMH.orgThe WFMH is an international membership organization founded in 1948 to ‘advance, among all peoples and nations, the prevention of mental and emotional disorders, the proper treatment and care of those with such disorders, and the promotion of mental health’. Individuals and organizations can become paid members. The federation has 41 voting member organizations from all over the world. In February 2014 the WFMH was refreshing it’s website and information or forms for membership were not yet on this new website. The previous website offered a lot of resources and links as well and I suppose the WFMH will put them in place again when their site is finished.
The WFMH plays the leading role in the annual 10th October World Mental Health day activities, and is organizing the bi-annual World Congress of the World Federation of Mental Health, last time, 2013, in Buenos Aires, Argentinia.
Although the WFMH has a website, a Twitter account and Facebook page, they seem not yet very social media minded. But their years of experience and continues activism and global activities makes it something you must keep an eye on if you’re interested in Global Mental Health.