mhGAP Forum: Update and Reflections

11 October 2012

 Hi GMH colleagues,

Here is a short update about the mhGAP Forum held at WHO Geneva on 10 October 2012. These are just my personal reflections and nothing official from any organisation.

The Forum focussed on the zero draft of the GMH-Action Plan 2013-2020. About 100 people were present, including WHO and WHO-MH and Substance Abuse staff, representatives of many Member States, and those representing NGOs/civil society/academic institutions.

The GMH-Action Plan was overviewed in a presentation and then there were many opportunities throughout the day to give input about its content from the floor. The overall Forum had a participative quality to it and at the feel for me was of an international community of colleagues coming together to seriously focus on the GMH-Action Plan on behalf of human wellbeing.

There was a deep sense of appreciation expressed for the hard work of the WHO Dept of Mental Health and Substance Abuse—for Shekhar Saxena and the team--for Member States’ and WHO regions’ active involvement, as well as for the supportive and key input from the NGOs/civil society/ academic institutions. The clear consensus was that the zero draft of the GMH-Action Plan was excellent and encouraging, and that the various comments about it and suggestions will help to strengthen it even more.

A few more thoughts regarding the overall mhGAP Forum yesterday:

** I was impressed with the growing awareness and understanding of GMH as reflected in the participants' comments from the floor and the many side conversations. Also the awareness of the importance and challenges of helping to implement the GMH-Action Plan.

**The roundtable lunch discussion on depression (the theme of course for WMHD) featured an excellent panel of two UK MPs (both whom had struggled with major depression in the past), a humanitarian journalist discussing media coverage about mental health, and Shekar Saxena. The discussion opened up with a creative animation piece on depression (four minutes) called I Had a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone and based on his book Living with a Black Dog: His Name is Depression. Have a watch!.

**We finished off the day with a lovely reception, filled with the ongoing, lively discussions. The reception was provided by the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression. One of this organisation’s contributions yesterday was our seriously considering the relevance of “branding” mental health/depression internationally via far more positive and universally-recognised images, such as the sunflower.

 Finally, please note that there is still time, until 19 Oct, to give feedback on the GMH-Action Plan via the special portal on the WHO website. So please do consider this opportunity.

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Publication date: 
12 October 2012