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Global Mental Health

Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health

Initiative to bring neuropsychiatric disorders to the forefront of global attention and scientific inquiry.

According to the Global Burden of Disease study, a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from disease, including non-communicable diseases, worldwide, neuropsychiatric disorders attribute for over 10% of the global burden of disease. Mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders are the leading contributors to years lived with disability. While the physical, social, and economic burden of mental illness is great, the World Health Organization's Mental Health Atlas reports that the median number of mental health workers globally is 9 per 100,000 population with extreme variation between low-income and high-income countries.

Education and Training

Global mental health involves the study, research, and practice of improving mental health for all people worldwide. It takes into consideration disparities in mental health treatment and care across cultures and countries. Interest in global mental health has grown with curriculums across training programs covering topics such as:

  • Cultural competency
  • Service delivery in limited resource settings
  • Epidemiology in cultural and geographic contexts
  • Health systems and policies
  • Access to treatment and care
  • Ethics and human rights
  • Structural determinants of mental health
  • Education and supervision of non-specialists

Psychiatric training programs with global mental health curriculums coordinate research and practice opportunities with partnering organizations and/or local communities to cultivate experience with diverse populations. Programs and curriculum examples are available from multiple institutions:

Education Resources


United Nations (UN)

The UN adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognizing the promotion of mental health and well-being and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse as global health priorities. Read more about this on the following UN pages:

APA is a non-governmental member organization of the UN through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). View APA's letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights violations and abuse and misuse of psychiatry in Iran - Oct. 27, 2022 (.pdf)

World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO adopted a mental health action plan which has been extended to 2030 which includes the following major objectives:

  1. Strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health
  2. Provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings
  3. Implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health
  4. Strengthen information systems, evidence and research for mental health

Read more on this on the following WHO pages:

World Psychiatric Association (WPA)

The World Psychiatric Association Action Plan for 2020-2023 defines emerging needs and priorities, from a worldwide perspective, in specific areas of mental health including the following:

  1. Public Mental Health
  2. Child, Adolescent and Youth Mental Health
  3. Addressing Comorbidity in Mental Health
  4. Partnership with Other Professional Organisations and NGOs
  5. Capacity Building
  6. Continuation and Completion of Previous Action Plans Work APA is a member society of the WPA and represented in WPA Zone 2 (United States).

APA is a member society of the WPA and represented in WPA Zone 2 (United States).


  • Consortium of Universities for Global Health: Organization of over 145 academic institutions and other organizations from around the world engaged in addressing global health challenges.
  • Centre for Global Mental Health: Collaboration between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and King's Health Partners Academic Health Science Centre to foster research and training in policy, prevention, treatment and care.
  • Global Initiative on Psychiatry: International non-profit foundation supporting the development of mental health care services in developing countries.
  • Mental Health Innovation Network: Global community of mental health innovators sharing resources and ideas including resources on mental health policy and advocacy.
  • National Institute of Mental Health Center for Global Mental Health Research: U.S. federal agency coordinating efforts to reduce mental health disparities both within and outside of the United States and overseeing research on global mental health, health disparities, and women's mental health.
  • Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development: International organization working with mental health experts and key stakeholders from around the world to benchmark mental health performance.
  • United for Global Mental Health: Organization dedicated to catalyzing global mental health by uniting stakeholders and incubating initiatives.
  • World Bank: Global partnership dedicated to sustainable solutions supporting efforts to put mental health at the center of global health and development agendas.
  • World Federation for Mental Health: International membership organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of mental disorders and mental health advancement.

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