WONCA Working Party: Mental Health

2017 - Non-drug interventions for common mental health disorders in PHC 2018 - Patients with Medically Unexplained Symptoms

Mental Health

the Working Party meets in Korea in November 2018

Why we need a working party on Mental Health

Our vision is to provide a universal gold standard of care for mental health by empowerment through primary care and in collaboration with all interested stakeholders.

A high proportion of patients presenting to family practitioners suffer from some form of psychiatric or neurological disorder. Many such problems are under-diagnosed. Those diagnosed often present with complex needs that have long term consequences for themselves and their families. Although there may be well-developed secondary care systems to deal with such problems, because of the fear of stigma, many such patients prefer to be cared for by their general practitioners.

Our Mental Health consultancies

WONCA is delighted to offer international consultancy services in primary mental health care, through its Working Party on Mental Health. We worksclosely with WHO and we tailor our consultancy services specifically to support the mhGAP programme.

FInd out more about our consultancies and expert panel here

Convenor / Chair

Prof Chris Dowrick (UK)

email chair

Chris has over 20 years experience in primary care mental health. He is a family doctor and Professor of Primary Medical Care in the University of Liverpool, board advisor for Mersey Care NHS Trust, senior investigator for the English National Institute for Health Research, professorial research fellow in the University of Melbourne and member of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health. He has over 200 research publications, with focus on depression, medically unexplained symptoms and improving access to primary mental health care. He delivers primary mental health care training to family medicine residents in Bahrain. He advises WHO on primary care aspects of new country work with mhGAP, including eastern Europe, central Asian republics and eastern Mediterranean region.

> read more about Chris Dowrick

Co-Convenor or other office bearers

Executive Members

• Chair:
Professor Christopher Dowrick, (UK)

• Vice-Chair:
Professor Christos Lionis (Greece)

• Secretary:
Dr Jill Benson (Australia)

• Treasurer:
Dr Juan Mendive (Spain)

• Regional Vice-Chairs:
Africa: Adekunle Joseph Ariba (Nigeria)
EMR: Abdullah al Khatami (Saudi Arabia)
Europe: Christos Lionis (Greece)
Iberoamericana: Leandro Wenceslau and Daniel Puig
South Asia: Pramendra Prasad Gupta (Nepal)
Asia Pacific: Cindy Lam (Hong Kong)
North America: Kim Griswold (US)
Caribbean: Sonia Roache-Barker (Trinidad)

• Secondary care Interface:
Dr Sandra Fortes (Brazil)
Dr Lucja Kolkiewicz (UK)

• Young Doctor representative:
Dr Ray Mendez (US)

Vision and Mission of WONCA Working Party on Mental Health

Mission: To improve mental health and healthcare around the world.

Objectives of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health

  • To serve as a focus to stimulate and promote standards of excellence in the primary care management of mental health, consistent with patient and professional values and with reference to evidence based health care 
  • To promote the concept of mental health & well-being 
  • To promote and develop mental health research activities in primary care & the primary care interface 
  • To hold scientific meetings, which may include sessions and workshops, during WONCA Regional and World conferences, to present original papers and to address broader educational issues through discussion, training and debate 
  • To promote and develop patient information about mental health issues 
  • To develop and promote appropriate literature for primary care professionals using a variety of resources, including WONCA Online 
  • To promote the discipline of primary care mental health world-wide through collaborative working within WONCA, NGO’s, government organisations, patient groups & other medical colleges 
  • To address the issue of stigma associated with mental health difficulties. 


Publications & Documents

Your feedback welcome on any of our publications

- Global Primary Mental Health Care: Practical Guidance for Family Doctors 2019

- Addressing the needs of patients with Medically Unexplained Symptoms (2018)         中文  

- Core competencies of family doctors in primary mental health care - (2018)    Tiếng Việt     español          中文     

- Guidance on caring for the physical health of patients with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) resources (2017)

- Depression - an evidence based first consultation (2017)  Português       العربية         中文

- Family doctors’ role in providing non-drug interventions (NDIs) for common mental health disorders in primary care (2017, rev 2018)  Tiếng Việt  español     中文

- Integrating mental health into primary care: a global perspective. (2008).

This report provides the rationale and know-how on successfully integrating mental health into primary health care. Readers will find out how providing mental health care into primary health care settings produces better health outcomes, learn from other countries that have successfully integrated their mental health services into primary health care, and discover 10 common principles that underlie all successful mental health integration, regardless of country resource level.

Authors: WHO / WONCA
Number of pages: viii, 206 p.
Publication date: 2008
Languages: English
Price: CHF 40.00 / US$ 40.00
ISBN: 9789241563680
WHO reference number: WM 140 2008IN

- Primary Care Factsheet: Integrating Mental Health Services Into Primary Health Care. (2007)

Authors: WHO, WONCA

- WONCA Culturally Sensitive Depression Guideline (2004) 


Activity Plan 2016-18

1. Improve WWPMH structures

• Expand membership

• Ensure representation across all WONCA constituencies
      o Regional vice-chairs
      o WONCA Young Doctors
      o Mental health liaison

• Enhance communication between WWPMH members
      o Regular e-meetings for WWPMH officers
      o Regular e-bulletins for all WWPMH members

2. Offer mental health guidance for WONCA members

• Advise Executive and Council of relevant primary mental health issues

• Encourage primary mental health care input to all WONCA conferences

• Enable collaboration with other WPs and SIGs

• Develop task groups on specific topics, including:
      o Core competencies for primary mental health care
      o Shared learning for primary mental health care
      o Non-drug interventions for psycho-social distress
      o Physical health care for people with severe mental illness
      o Management of medically unexplained symptoms
      o Mental health care of migrants (with Migrant Care SIG)

3. Provide leadership on global primary mental health care

• Advocate for improved primary mental health care on behalf of family doctors and their patients.

• Progress the international primary mental health care consultancy.

• Promote external collaborations, including with WHO mhGAP, World Psychiatric Association and World Federation for Mental Health.

• Work with WHO mhGAP team to develop and disseminate an implementation manual for the integration of mental and behavioural health with primary care.


the working party meets in Rio in 2016


Members of the Warking Party in Cancun in 2010

Relevant Resources

NEW! WWPMH guidance on mental health recovery 2019

From knowledge to action – building recovery into relationships with patients in primary care
Written on behalf of the WONCA Working Party for Mental Health, 2019. Author: Amanda Howe, with contributions from Chris Dowrick, Christine Gibson, Cindy Lam, Jun Liang, Christine Lionis, and Johanna Lynch.

Online training resources on Common Mental Health Problems

This form provides information on high quality, freely accessible online resources, with a focus on common mental health problems, aimed primarily (but not exclusively) at family doctors. This list has been collated by members of the WONCA Working Party of Mental Health (WWPMH)*. The resources are listed by country of origin but are widely applicable.


Black Dog Institute:
There are currently 17 recordings of live webinars

A six module online learning program interest all focussed on Australian evidence-based eMH programs and resources and how to use them in clinical practice. Many of these resources are available to international users and one, MoodGYM, has been translated into a number of languages including Chinese. Were a GP from outside Australia to undertake the eMHPrac modules or listen to a webinar they would hear about online programs and resources that they could use outside Australia.


“find a course” through the following link and refine the search using keyword “mental health” for example here.


Two main governmental platforms for distance Learning and both have Mental Health free online courses:

1 - UNASUS - Universidade Aberta do SUS

1a - Evento Agudos em Saúde Mental (one of many other courses in mental health)

2 - TelessaúdeRS- Núcleo de Telessaúde da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

2a - Curso EAD de Saúde Mental na Atenção Primária para Médicos

United Kingdom

RCGP mental health toolkit

WHO / Pan American Health Organization

Annual Courses for primary care practitioners- mhGAP---Mental Health Global Action Programme: NMH-MH-VCmhGAP-17

Other courses:
(NMH / MH) Salud Mental y Uso de Sustancias
(NMH / MH) Mental Health and Substance UseWHO mhGAP programme - contains clinical protocols for management of priority conditions

WHO MiNDbank online platform - key resources related to mental health, substance use, disability, general health, human rights and development.
WHO Mental Health resources
Culturally Sensitive Depression Guideline
WHO report - Dementia: a public health priority (2012)

WONCA Working Party for Mental Health

Our own recently produced guidance and training on physical health care for patients with severe mental illness: