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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Columbia Marks Global Mental Health Day

Below are several examples that illustrate the School’s global mental health initiatives.

Columbia Mailman School’s Global Mental Health Program (GMHP), a collaboration of various schools on the Columbia University Medical Center campus, aims to advance the field of global mental health by building research ties in low and middle-income countries, offering training opportunities, and raising awareness about mental illnesses. Led by Dr. Kathleen Pike with co-directors Drs. Ezra Susser, Harold Pincus, Milton Wainberg, and Geoffrey Reed from the departments of epidemiology, psychiatry, and psychology, the program has faculty engaged in research and training programs in South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  In addition to research and training initiatives, the program is committed to engaging the arts to reduce stigma and promote understanding about mental illness among communities around the world. The Global Mental Health Program was named a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for research and capacity building in global mental health and serves as the coordinating center for the research program underpinning the development of the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11).

Learn more about GMHP.

The project RedeAmericas Regional Network for Mental Health Research in Latin America is one of several “collaborative hubs” for mental health research funded by National Institute of Mental Health.  The network encompasses research and capacity building in six cities in Latin America, including Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Medellin, Neuquen, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago. Most recently, new members from Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia and Ecuador have been added.

A highlight of the project is a pilot randomized controlled trial of a task-sharing psychosocial intervention for people with severe mental disorders, known as Critical Time Intervention-Task Shifting (CTI-TS). Designed for people who seek help at community-based clinics, the pilot is in the data analysis phase.

Dr. Ezra Susser, professor of epidemiology and psychiatry in the department of epidemiology and New York State Psychiatric Institute, and a leader of the Global Mental Health Program at Columbia, is the principal investigator. Other PIs and local leadership include Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health,
Dr. Graciela Rojas, department of psychiatry and mental health at the University of Chile, Dr. Ruben Alvarado, in epidemiology and psychiatry at the O’Higgins University in Chile, Dr. Maria Tavares Cavalcanti, epidemiology and primary care and Dr. Giovanni Lovisi, Institute of Studies in Public Healthat the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The network is currently planning new common projects.

Dr. Myrna Weissman, Chief of the Division of Epidemiology at New York State Psychiatric Institute, working with Dr. Lena Verdeli, Columbia associate professor of clinical psychology, and collaborators from Egypt have developed a manual for Interpersonal Counseling in Primary Care for Middle East Countries. The approach is based on Dr. Weissman’s interpersonal psychotherapy which now has nearly 100 clinical trials and is being used along with the group version with refugees in Lebanon and elsewhere. The methods are presently being implemented and tested in studies in Africa. In October 2016 Drs. Weissman and Verdeli were invited to WHO in Geneva for the launching of the group version which is distributed free of charge by WHO.

Mailman School student organizations are screening the documentary “What the Health” on October 12. The film focuses on food as well as the effects of the American Diet on mental and overall wellbeing.