News from WP on Mental Health

Professor Chris Dowrick, chair of Working Party on Mental Health, reports:

Dear colleagues,

I do hope you are all staying as well as possible in these exceptionally difficult times, with the pandemic spreading ever more rapidly around the world, accompanied by economic insecurities, political turmoil and other natural and man-made disasters. It does seem that we are living through a series of catastrophes right now. So it is more important than ever that we take care of ourselves, as well as looking after the welfare of our patients.

WONCA Webinar Sunday October 25, 2020

We will be discussing how to do this during our next live WONCA webinar, on Sunday October 25, at 12 noon GMT/UTC.

Juan Mendive will describe his experiences of living with the pandemic in Barcelona. Weng Chin will explain how non-drug interventions can help patients whose mental health has been affected by COVID. Kim Griswold and Alan Cohen will advise on taking care of the physical health needs of patients with severe mental illness. And Jill Benson will guide us in building resilience to adversity.

If you would like to prepare for this session, you will find lots of relevant material online on our pages of the WONCA website, and in our new book on Global Primary Mental Health Care (Dowrick C ed, Routledge 2020).

Webinar joining information will be posted here
Education and training

Members of our working party members continue to advance education and training in primary mental health care:

• Our advocacy project is nearing its conclusion. Thanks to the great work of Larry Green and the Farley Center team in Colorado, we now have a group of 12 amazing young family doctors, from all over the world, who are rapidly becoming skilled in advocating effectively for mental health care in their localities. We will publish a report on this project later in the year, and will be delighted to share it with you all. We see this as just the beginning…

• Cindy Lam and colleagues are developing an exciting programme on digital mental health for primary care in the Asia-Pacific region: a position paper has been submitted for publication, and we expect to start pilot studies in several south-east Asian countries early next year.

• And we are in discussions about a major new programme to provide online training for family doctors in depression care, with emphasis on Latin America, Africa/Middle East and Asia. More news on this in the next few months.


Many of us are increasingly concerned about the mental health of asylum seekers and refugees. I expect you will have seen the harrowing pictures from the refugee camp on Lesbos, and be aware of the plight of refugee detainees in the USA, and the devastating impact of political disintegration in Venezuela. We are planning a series of initiatives, in co-operation with the WONCA Special Interest Group on Migrant Care, at both policy and practice levels. Please let me know if you would like to join us in tackling these problems.

Alfredo de Neto is proposing an international collaborative venture to explore the benefits of music on mental health. First, he will conduct a survey to find out what people are doing now. Then we will propose plans to increase the engagement of family doctors and patients in therapeutic music-making. Please let me and Alfredo ([email protected]) know if you are interested in this venture.

WHO has produced a new website on mental health and social support, with a page dedicated to frontline health care workers. It contains very helpful, practical advice. Here is the link.

With my best wishes to you all,