Mental Health Bulletin from Chris Dowrick

Professor Christopher Dowrick, chair of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health writes:

Dear colleagues,

I trust you are all staying well, despite the resurgence of the pandemic in many parts of the world. The results of the turbulent US elections remind us that change is possible. As Jill Benson told us during our recent webinar: “We need to stay hopeful, because we know that hopelessness is more infectious that COVID-19”.

International activities

Our second WONCA webinar on mental health took place on 25 October. My thanks to Juan Mendive, Weng Chin, Kim Griswold, Alan Cohen and Jill Benson for creating and delivering such a high quality event; and to Pere Vilanova Estrada for his excellent technological support. Many of you will have seen the webinar already, but if you would like to catch it again:

• You can find the full webinar on You Tube

• And the presentation slides are attached here.

Our advocacy project
is now complete, and has been a great success. For me, it has been one of the (rare) joys of 2020. We tested a virtual educational programme to equip 12 motivated family doctors who wish to advance the integration of behavioural health care into routine primary care practice. I have submitted our report to WONCA Executive, and will be pleased to share it with you once it has been approved.

• Meanwhile, here is a comment from one of our participants. Darien Cipta: “It is very encouraging to know fellows from different countries and background yet with same vision. The collegiality is invaluable and among the best part of this program, which is preserved even after the formal program ended.”

Thank you to everyone who has responded to Alfredo de Oliveira Neto’s call to create a music and mental health group. Lots of wonderful ideas are emerging, including proposals for a virtual concert.

We are also collaborating with colleagues from the WONCA SIG on Migrant Care to develop a manifesto for action on migrant mental health. Watch this space!

Regional activities


• Sally Liu continues to organise valuable mental health training programmes for family doctors in China (pictured). During October she trained 60 family doctors from Guangdong province and 30 senior family doctors from Shenzhen community, in our core competencies guidance. You can see attached a photograph from one of these sessions.

• Linh Ngyuen is translating two of our guidance documents - on core competencies and on non-drug interventions - into Vietnamese, with financial support from WWPMH.


• Aldyth Buckland took part in a major conference on planetary health, organised by the Caribbean College Of Family Physicians and Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association. You can see a link to it here:

Eastern Mediterranean

• Abdullah al-Khatami’s 5-Steps Approach continues to be widely supported. He has kindly provided a set of slides on this approach, which are attached.


• Next month the WONCA Europe conference will take place, virtually. Christos Lionis, Juan Mendive, Henk Parmentier and I will present a seminar on Primary Mental Health Care in Europe: Opportunities and Challenges. I hope many of you will be able to take part.


• Leandro Wenceslau is the author with Francisco Ortega of “Urban mental health and the moral economies of suffering in a 'broken city': Reinventing depression among urban residents in Rio de Janeiro” – a key chapter within the collection “Urban transformations and public health in the emerging city” edited by Michael Keith and Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos. Leandro recently presented the results of his ethnographic research. You can see a link here.


Here once again is the survey on family doctors’ views on the management of major depressive disorder (MDD) in primary care. It is part of an education and training initiative that WONCA is leading, together with Pfizer.
> Survey link

Thank you to everyone who completed it in October. We are now looking for further responses, especially from family doctors in Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America.

With my best wishes to you all,