Rhodes Health Forum, ‘Forward together: Approaching global inequalities in health’
Dr. Melanie Abas, Centre for Global Mental Health, was part of a panel for the plenary session ‘Mental Health: In the Limelight’ alongside Dr Mary de Silva (the Wellcome Trust), Prof Michael Phillips (Shanghai Jiao University) and Dr Farnaz Sabet (Jordan University of Science and Technology). The panel was moderated by Dr Kirsten Rowe (University of Oxford).
Dr. Abas described her own background in mental health research, clinical practice, and her particular focus on Zimbabwe for the past 10 years.
The plenary conversation centred around three core themes: the cultural aspects of mental health, treatment versus prevention, and an approach to mental health in the developing world. The panel recognised the need for culturally appropriate mental health treatment, where Dr. Abas described the work of the Friendship Bench Project in Zimbabwe.
The discussion also focused on the need for capacity building in the developing world, the shortage of mental health care professionals and the role of task shifting, and the need for analysis of regional or cultural contexts.
The need for increased funding was highlighted with Dr. De Silva revealing that the UK spends more in one week on coffee than the world spends on development of assistance in mental health in one year.
The panel closed with changes the panellists would like to see in the near future which included the greater use of evidence based treatment for anxiety and depression shared by Dr. Abas, and the plea to push policy makers to recognise that the seriously mentally ill have a life expectancy reduction of 15 years presented by Prof. Phillips.
The forum report can be accessed here: (link https://cdn.flipsnack.com/widget/v2/widget.html?hash=fdxnw59po&bgcolor=F4EAEE&t=1513589152)