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DOHA, QATAR: Mental health is being dangerously neglected by the international community and national healthcare systems, according to world leading experts at the World Innovation Summit for Health 2013 (WISH).

Hundreds of millions of individuals are affected by mental health conditions, but an unacceptable proportion of these go undiagnosed and untreated for various reasons including poor general awareness and social stigma. Experts have also highlighted longer term economic and social costs of this problem if countries fail to work together to develop innovative solutions.

In a new report on mental health, published at WISH today, experts have pointed out that, despite 194 national health ministers of health adopting the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan at the World Health Assembly, progress has been slow and improving access to diagnosis and treatment remains a priority. While the Plan helped encourage a range of innovations in this area, up to 10 per cent of the world’s population continues to be affected by a mental health condition.

The report also examined innovations implemented by economically and culturally diverse countries to expand access to effective mental health treatment and care. Expert panelists in the Mental Health Forum recommended practical steps to adapt and implement these innovations in different national healthcare systems. These included better education to combat social stigma associated with mental illness; empowerment of people with mental health problems to advocate for services that would best meet their needs; and a collaborative approach to integrate mental healthcare into general healthcare.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Co-Chair of the Mental Health Forum and Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization, said: “We not only need to ensure that mental health gets the same degree of attention as other health priorities, but also to find means to empower individuals to seek help with dignity, and this Forum aims to do just that. With stigma attached to mental health, many who need care do not get it, and the impact of this neglect takes a toll on families as well as in the workplace.”

Mental Health is one of eight areas being discussed at WISH taking place in Doha, Qatar on 10 and 11 December, where world leading experts will join an influential cast of heads of state, government ministers, academics, clinicians, policy makers and business leaders to discuss innovative solutions to some of the most pressing global health challenges. As well as Mental Health, there will be reports on Accountable Care, Big Data and Healthcare, End of Life Care, Antimicrobial Resistance, Obesity, Patient Engagement and Road Traffic Injuries.

The Right Honourable Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of WISH and Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, said: “Besides scientific and economic reasons, human rights is a compelling reason for us to act now. We need to empower people affected by mental health to live with dignity, and inclusion.”

WISH opened today in Doha and is under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. WISH supports the aims and ambitions of Qatar Foundation and reinforces Qatar’s pioneering role as an emerging center for medical innovation.


Notes to editors:

  1. Mental Health Report Summary

The report describes six policy actions that will impact on the delivery of mental health services. These policy actions are illustrated by a number of innovations from around the world. The policy actions recommended are:

Empower people with mental health problems and their families

    • People with mental health problems and their carers must be empowered to advocate for the services that best meet their needs and should be involved in delivering these solutions. Innovative programs are needed that prevent abuse and promote the inclusion of people with mental health problems in society.

Build a diverse mental health workforce

    • The lack of a skilled workforce is one of the main reasons why most people with mental health problems do not receive treatment, or receive poor quality care.

Develop a collaborative and multidisciplinary team based approach to mental health care

    • Collaborative care is an approach that integrates mental health into general healthcare to provide person-centered care that addresses all the needs of individual patients.

Use technology to improve access to mental health care

    • Appropriate technologies can help connect people affected by mental health problems to mental health specialists and evidence based interventions.

Identify and treat mental health problems early

    • The best investment we can make to reduce the global burden of mental health problems is to intervene early to either prevent them from happening in the first place or to stop them from progressing.

Reduce premature mortality in people with mental health problems

    • This life expectancy gap is due partly to suicide, but also because people with mental health problems lead poorer, more disadvantaged lives, experience more physical health problems, and receive worse treatment for their physical health problems.

Examples of case studies

Innovations from around the world have been identified to support the recommended policy actions listed above and a database has been developed to provide further information on the case studies described.

Some examples and their outcomes include:

    • Chain-Free Initiative, Somalia: preventing discrimination and human rights abuses.
    • Kintampo Project, Ghana: building the capacity of non-specialist health workers to deliver mental health care.
    • Basic Needs, 12 countries in Africa and Asia: integrating mental health care and economic empowerment.
    • SCARF mobile tele-psychiatry, India: using technology to reach rural and remote communities.
    • TEAMcare, US and Canada: providing integrated care for people with both mental and physical health problems.

Professor Vikram Patel is at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Professor Vikram Patel is a psychiatrist with a special interest in global mental health. He has been a Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science since 2005 and is a Joint Director of the Centre for Global Mental Health, a partnership of the LSHTM with King’s Health Partners. He is co-founder of Sangath; a Goan NGO which collaborates with the LSHTM on several projects in the areas of child development, adolescent health and mental health. In 2011 he was appointed to the Government of India’s Mental Health Policy group. He is actively involved in teaching, editing and research on the subject of mental health.

  1. About Dr. Shekhar Saxena

Dr. Shekhar Saxena is the Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization. He is a psychiatrist by training with 30 years of experience in research and program management, service delivery, and information systems in mental health. He was one of the writers of the 2001 World Health Report on mental health and an editor and author in the 2007 Lancet Series on Global Mental Health. He led WHO’s Mental Health Atlas and WHO Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS). He is responsible for implementation of WHO’s mental health Gap Action

  1. About WISH

The inaugural World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), due to be held in Doha, Qatar on 10-11 December 2013, will bring together heads of state, ministers, senior government officials, academics and thinkers, as well as the most influential business leaders, to stimulate implementation of practical, sustainable and innovative solutions to tackle global health challenges.

The purpose of WISH is to encourage collaboration and innovation in health policy, health systems and health care delivery, in order to close the gap between what we know and what we do in the fields of healthcare and medicine.

WISH is aligned with the mission and vision of Qatar Foundation and Qatar National Vision 2030, and serves to highlight Qatar’s growing role as an emerging center for healthcare innovation. As the nation stands at the forefront of healthcare reform, Qatar Foundation has embarked upon several promising research-health initiatives, including partnerships with Weill-Cornell Medical College, Biobank Qatar, Qatar Robotic Surgery Centre Qatar Cardiovascular Research Centre, Virgin Health Bank, and Sidra Medical and Research Center.

For more information on WISH, please visit:

  1. Qatar Foundation – Unlocking Human Potential

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is a private, non-profit organisation that is supporting Qatar on its journey from carbon economy to knowledge economy by unlocking human potential for the benefit of not only Qatar, but the world. Founded in 1995 by the Father Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Amir of Qatar, QF is chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.

QF carries out its mission through three strategic pillars: education, science and research, and community development. QF’s education pillar brings world-class universities to Qatar to help create an education sector in which young people can develop the attitudes and skills required for a knowledge economy. Meanwhile, its science and research pillar builds Qatar’s innovation and technology capacity by developing and commercialising solutions through key sciences. Finally, its community development pillar helps foster a progressive society while also enhancing cultural life, protecting Qatar’s heritage and addressing immediate social needs in the community.

For a complete list of QF’s initiatives and projects, visit

For more information about Qatar Foundation please contact our press office at:

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