Mental Health Matters : 2018 wrap up

Prof Chris Dowrick, Chair of WONCA Working Party on Mental Health (WWPMH) writes his last news for the year. Photo above - the Working Party meeting in Korea in October 2018.

Dear colleagues
This will be my last bulletin of 2018. It has been an eventful and highly productive year for our working party.

First of all, congratulations to three members of our working party who have achieved important awards:

• Sonia Roache-Barker (Trinidad & Tobago) for her prestigious WONCA Fellowship, awarded at the world conference in Seoul.
• Gabby Ivbijaro (UK) for his PhD from Nova University Lisbon, on primary mental health care
• Shimnaz Nazeer (Qatar) for his MBA on National Mental Health Strategy Implementation in Primary Care

Regional News

Eastern Mediterranean: Abdullah al-Khatami (regional vice chair for EMR) reports on substantial activity:
• In Saudi Arabia mental health services continue to develop in PHC centers, involving frequent training and monthly asessments. There are now 574 PHC clinics providing primary mental health care services across the country. During November, Abdullah and colleagues contributed to Saudi psychiatric and family medicine conferences in Dammam and Taif.
• In Egypt we have contributed to the Training the Trainers (TtT) course for integrating mental health in PHC centers in Cairo 21-30 October 2018, and this month another conference in Cairo.
• In Jordan we contributed to the Family Medicine conference in Aman (7-10 November), introducing the 5-Steps patient interview for providing mental health care in PHC.


• Jill Benson (Australia), Evelyn van Weel-Baumgarten (Netherlands) and Ryuki Kassai (Japan) have successfully completed the second intensive week of TtT in depression for family doctors in Japan.
• Last week we held our first webinar for the Asia-Pacfic TtT programme. Next month we will be inviting family doctors across the region to take part in our training programme during the WONCA Asia-Pacific conference in Kyoto (May 2019).
• We are entering a collaboration with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Digital Hub for Mental Health, on integration with primary care and community settings. Cindy Lam (Hong Kong) has agreed to lead for us on this exciting new initiative.


• This month we have been joined by five new members from Nigeria. A warm welcome to each one of you. You will help us to increase our knowledge and influence on the development of primary mental health care across Africa.


• On a more sombre note, there are concerns in Brazil about the future of community and primary mental health care, following the outcome of their recent presidential election.

International Activities

Physical health care for severe mental illness

• The World Health Organisation has published its new guideline on the management of physical health conditions in adults with severe mental disorders. This is important because much of the excess mortality from severe mental illness is due to physical health conditions. The guideline covers physical health care for people with severe depression as well as psychotic disorders. It will be a valuable resource for family doctors in low and middle income countries, as well as high income countries. Abdullah, Alan Cohen (UK) and I were involved in its production. It follows on from our own guidance documents, produced last year by Alan and Kim Griswold (USA).

> link to the WHO document:

Primary mental health care for disasters.

• We are increasingly aware of disasters, both natural and man-made, and the catastrophic consequences they have for millions of people. As the recent Lancet Commission on Climate Change reports, pressures from excess heat, flooding, and food insecurity all impair social cohesion, undermining crucial supports for mental health.

• WWPMH is committed to support Donald Li, our new WONCA President, in his initiative to improve the primary care response to disasters. Pramendra Prasad (Nepal), Darien Cipta (Indonesia) and I have produced a briefing document, setting out the scope of a new task group on this crucial topic.

• Please let me know if you would like to help us. [email protected]

I wish you all a peaceful and creative festive season.
Chris Dowrick

Join our working party