Mental Health Gap Action Programme Forum 2014

Photo: Dr Gabriel Ivbijaro (former WWPMH chair), Dr Shekhar Saxena (WHO); and Dr Luis Galvez (chair WWPMH)

WHO has developed a plan to address the mental health of the citizens of this planet: “Mental Health Action Plan, 2013-2020”.

We know that mental health is an important part of the WHO health definition, that is why this plan is so important. Four major objectives are set forth:
- More effective leadership and governance for mental health
- The provision of comprehensive, integrated mental health and social care services in community-based settings.
- Implementation of strategies for promotion and prevention.
- Strengthened information systems, evidence and research.

One way to achieve these objectives set by WHO, is the annual Mental Health Gap Action Program (mhGAP) meeting, which this year took place September 4-5 at the World Health Organization premises, Geneva. It is a way to get in touch the secretariat of WHO, with member states, and international partners. (WONCA is one of those international partners).

This scientific association was represented by Dr Luis Gálvez and Dr Abdullah Al-Khatami (pictured at left with Natalie Drewer Bold), chair and co-chair of WONCA Working Party on Mental Health (WWPMH), and Dr Gabriel Ivbijaro, president-elect of the World Federation on Mental Health (WFMH) and past-chair of WWPMH.

Integrating mental health services into primary care can generate good quality cost-effective outcomes. It is an essential way to close the treatment gap and ensure that people have access to the care they need, close to home.

WONCA has a strong history of collaboration with WHO in mental health issues:
- The international classification of primary care (ICPC).
- Integrating mental health into primary care; A global perspective, offering examples in good practices in low, middle and high income countries and highlighting 10 common principles for the successful integration of mental health into primary care.
- Companion to Primary Care Mental Health, that include the work of an international group of family doctors and other professionals of mental health
- The Yerevan Declaration (link on this page), about the importance of integrating mental health into primary care

The meeting lasted two days, and after appropriate presentations, four working groups were established, one for each of the main objectives of the WHO action plan. These informal meetings allowed us to share information about the activities of our organizations in order to achieve the objectives of the plan.

The World Suicide Report
(the first report from WHO dedicated to suicide prevention) was presented at the conference.

The WHO document titled “Preventing suicide. A global imperative” (ISBN 978 92 4 156477 9) was presented and that was followed by the comments of the ambassadors from different countries that showed their interest and could collaborate with the solution of this important health problem.

I participated in the first informal working group, moderated by Michelle Funk and Natalie Drew. I gave them a list with some ways that WONCA can collaborate in order to maximize the integration of primary and mental health within the mhGAP framework.

WONCA can offer international consultancies in primary care mental health to low and middle income countries and our consultancies include:
• Policy: development and implementation of primary mental health care services at national and regional levels;
• Education and training: creation, delivery and evaluation of primary mental health care programmes for qualified and trainee primary care staff;
• Research: advice on identification of primary mental health care research priorities and funding opportunities; collaboration on implementation and evaluation of research projects.
And the project will be coordinated by Prof Christopher Dowrick.

The mhGAP gave me the opportunity to talk to Gabriel Ivbijaro (president-elect of World Federation on Mental Health) and Dinesh Bughra (president-elect of World Psychiatric Association) about the third thematic conference of “Mental Health and Primary Care Working Together” that will be held in Granada, Spain, in 2016. The conference will be organized by WONCA, WPA and WFMH.

I spoke to Gabby Ivbijaro about the “Mental Health for all” conference in Lille, France next year: where WWPMH members take an active part of that congress.

Luis Gálvez-Alcaraz, MD, PhD.
[email protected]
Chair WONCA Working Party on Mental Health (WWPMH)

See also Michael Kidd's 2013 keynote address to the Thematic Conference of the World Psychiatric Association onMental Health and Mental Illness: Focusing on Eurasia”