CGMH at the Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit

07 Nov 2018

On 9-10 October 2018, the UK Department of Health and Social Care (in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD and supported by the World Health Organization) held the first landmark Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit. The event convened political leaders, innovators, advocates and civil society groups from around the world to share learning and experiences on the most effective approaches to mental health and psychosocial support.

2018 has been an exciting year, with several high-profile events on global mental health. The Summit provided a unique opportunity to develop political declarations to catalyse action on global mental health. 586 delegates from 61 countries attended the event. 106 of these were from Ministries of Health in 47 countries. Delegates took part in the multiple work streams designed to produce recommendations for a Global Declaration. The Global Declaration encourages action on addressing the burden on mental disorders and documents the commitments of political leaders for more coordinated promotion and prevention approaches, resource provision and allocation, addressing discrimination and stigma, empowering people and communities and focusing on innovative, data-driven and evidence-based solutions.

The Centre for Global Mental Health (CGMH) and Mental Health Innovation Network (a collaboration between CGMH and the World Health Organization Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse) had a place in the exhibition hall, sharing examples of research and innovation from the CGMH portfolio, including PRIME, EMERALD, INDIGO and the Friendship Bench. A key message from CGMH representatives was the urgent need to translate research evidence into policy and practice.

The report of the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development was also launched at the Summit, with an impassioned speech by Vikram Patel, a former Director of CGMH. Several of the Commissioners from CGMH attended, including Crick Lund, Graham Thornicroft, Julian Eaton, Martin Prince and Mark Jordans. As one of the Commission’s dissemination and advocacy partners, the Mental Health Innovation Network distributed a policy brief highlighting seven key recommendations from the report aimed at political leaders attending the Summit.

Following the Summit, Julian Eaton attended the WHO mhGAP Forum in Geneva, where he represented the Lancet Commission as well as MHIN, its advocacy work with United for Global Mental Health, and its regional networks, including a brand-new Latin America and Caribbean Hub.

The Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit helped to harness and build momentum for more policy engagement and action in global mental health. Notably, it produced a set of six key recommendations for Ministers:

  1. Inclusive approaches for children and young people
  2. Building a caring society through a focus on prevention and well-being
  3. Financial and equitable resource allocation
  4. Creating a just society that supports inclusive social structures and fights discrimination
  5. Integrated and responsive mental health services
  6. Strengthening the evidence base for and utilizing best-practice approaches to mental health care

However, the most important and exciting output of the Summit was perhaps not the Global Declaration or its recommendations, but rather the debate it sparked in the field more broadly. Critical voices in the workshop sessions and an open letter by the UK National Service User Network challenged the Summit’s organisers and delegates to think carefully about representation and inclusion in global mental health, sparking some uncomfortable reflections by colleagues working in the field. These are important conversations to have as the field gains momentum and as CGMH considers its strategy for the next ten years.