Mental Health Matters - Annual Report Working Party on Mental Health

Christopher Dowrick, chair of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health (WWPMH) reports on activities in 2016-17 for the Annual report (photo: the group meet in 2016)

Progress on 2016-18 Activity Plan

The aim of the working party is to enhance global equity of access to high quality primary mental health care.

Since November 2016, we have made substantial progress on our three broad objectives: to improve internal structures; to offer mental health guidance for WONCA members; and to provide global leadership on primary mental health care.

1. Improve WWPMH structures

• Our membership has expanded from 46 in October 2016 to over 120 currently. Our largest groupings are from Europe and Latin America.

• We now have representation across all WONCA regions and constituencies.

• We have elected Chair (Chris Dowrick), Vice-Chair (Christos Lionis), Secretary (Jill Benson) and Treasurer (Juan Mendive).

• Vice-chairs have been appointed for each of the seven WONCA regions: Joseph Ariba for Africa, Cindy Lam for Asia-Pacific, Abdullah al Khatami for Eastern Mediterranean, Christos Lionis for Europe, Raquel Vaz Cardoso for Ibero-America, Kim Griswold for North America, and Pramendra Prasad for South Asia. We also appointed Sonia-Roache Barker as vice-chair for the Caribbean sub-region.

• We have maintained specialist liaison with Sandra Fortes (Brazil) and Lucja Kolkiewicz (UK) and Brazil; and established liaison with WONCA Young Doctors (Ray Mendez, USA).

• Communication between WWPMH members has been enhanced by structured e-meetings for officers every 2-3 months, and by regular e-bulletins circulated to all members. We also arrange ad hoc working party meetings at regional WONCA conferences.

2. Offer mental health guidance for WONCA members

• We advise Executive and Council of issues relevant to primary mental health, for example on WHO primary health care policy for the Eastern Mediterranean region.

• We are encouraging primary mental health care input to all WONCA conferences. To date we have enabled participation in regional conferences in Cairns, Abu Dhabi and Europe, with plans in place for Lima, Pretoria and Pattaya.

• We are developing collaboration with other WPs and SIGs, including education, WICC, migrant care and non-communicable disease.

• We have created time-limited task groups to provide practical guidance for family doctors on topics identified as important by WWPMH members:
• First depression consultation (led by Bruce Arroll, NZ): our guidance was featured for World Family Doctor Day in May, and has already been translated into Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese. All are available on the WONCA website.
• Physical health care for people with severe mental illness (led by Alan Cohen, UK): our guidance and training materials were launched at WONCA Prague and are available on the WONCA website.
• Shared learning for primary mental health care (led by Helen Rodenburg, NZ): we have produced links to accessible online training materials which will soon be made available to WONCA members.
• Non-drug interventions for psycho-social distress (led by Weng Chin, Hong Kong); we will launch our guidance on this topic at the WONCA Asia-Pacific meeting in November.
• Core competencies for primary mental health care (led by Chris Dowrick).
• Management of medically unexplained symptoms (led by Tim olde Hartmann, Netherlands).
• Mental health care of migrants (led by Maria van den Miujsenberg, chair of Migrant Care SIG, with Chris Dowrick).
• Frailty, multi-morbidity and mental health (led by Christos Lionis, Greece).

3. Provide leadership on global primary mental health care

• We advocate for improved primary mental health care on behalf of family doctors and their patients, for example on the recent breakdown of community care arrangements in South Africa, and on the need to address the adverse mental health effects of forced migration.

• We continue to offer expert advice and training through our international primary mental health care consultancy. Our Ibero-American team led by Raquel Vaz Cardoso and Sandra Fortes recently organised a second successful mhGAP training event in Rio, and plans another to coincide with WONCA Lima in August.

• We continue to promote external collaborations, including with WHO mhGAP, World Psychiatric Association, World Federation for Mental Health and European Association for Communication in Health Care. We have advised WHO on its Quality Rights policy initiative and are currently working with mhGAP (and WICC) on the primary care version of ICD-11’s mental disorders classification. In October, WWPMH officers will participate in the mhGAP forum in Geneva and the WPA World Congress in Berlin.

• Next year we have agreed to work with the WHO mhGAP team in developing and disseminate an implementation manual for the integration of mental and behavioural health with primary care.

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