Mental illness is a major contributor to the burden of disease worldwide, accounting for 37% of healthy life years lost from Noncommunicable Diseases (WHO, 2010). The 2010 Global Burden of Disease study prepared by a team of scholars from Harvard School of Public Health and World Economic Forum found that mental illnesses cost the global economy around $2.5 trillion a year, and this loss is expected to rise to $6 trillion by 2030. Mental illnesses are also risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and diabetes. So, the true costs of mental illness might be even higher.
Given the evidences that show the dramatic effects of mental illnesses, there is heightened awareness globally to increase its diagnosis and management. Yet, one of the biggest challenges in bringing mental health programs to be adopted in the community level is the persistent and harmful stigma about illnesses among families and communities. Such misperceptions about mental health can result in social restrictions, delay in treatment, poor quality of life, and even low self-esteem (Girma et. al 2014).
To discuss the challenge of the reducing mental health stigma, GHDonline is pleased to welcome the following group of panelists who will share current and past efforts to address this critical issue:
• Helen Christensen, PhD – Chief Scientist and Director of the Black Dog Institute
• Samuel Law, MD, FRCP(C) – Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto
• Rupinder Legha, MD – Psychiatrist/Pagenel Fellow at Zanmi Lasante and Partners in Health; Research Fellow in Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
• Lisa Smusz, MS, LPCC – Founder of Smusz & Associates Consulting Services; Instructor at California State University, East Bay
• Tatiana Therosme, BA – Psychologist and Mental Health Community Health Worker Supervisor at Zanmi Lasante, Haiti
• Graham Thornicroft, PhD – Professor of community psychiatry at King's College London
Our panelists will offer insight into the following questions:
• What are mental health and stigma reduction programs that you are currently involved in?
• What are the biggest challenges that you face while addressing mental health stigma in your setting?
• What programs and interventions are currently in practice to address these challenges? How do you measure success of these programs?
• Are there successful mental health educational efforts that have been applied to different settings and diverse populations?
• How do we keep ensuring that mental health is a priority in the policy agenda of governments?
This panel is part of our US Communities Initiative, which is supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and aims to foster discussions between health care professionals on evidence-based practices, and translating these practices across disparate settings, to improve healthcare delivery in underserved populations in the US.
In an effort to understand the impact of our Expert Panels, we have created a short (4 question) survey. Your responses are greatly appreciated—please take the survey before the discussion begins: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VSQPCHK
We look forward to a rich discussion next week – please join the conversation and share your questions or comments!