• Harvard Global Mental Health Coalition

  • Motivation & Purpose

    Despite the continued development of effective interventions against numerous major mental health disorders and the extreme stigma and social marginalization these patients face, mental health remains often forgotten on the global health agenda. In the worst of situations, asylums serve as cells where patients are chained to beds. Resources are absent while miles away pharmacies and providers have effective interventions. In recognition of these challenges, a coalition of groups--including six Harvard student groups (Partners In Health Engage, Harvard Student Mental Health Liaisons, Students for Global Health at Harvard Medical School, the Harvard Global Health & AIDS Coalition, the Global Health Forum & the Forum for International Development), a national global health advocacy organization, and several leading researchers--are coming together to build an advocacy campaign to help bridge the resource gap.


    This group's work is informed by mental health experts involved in transnational work, including psychiatrists Vikram Patel, Anne Becker and Bepi Raviola. These experts remind us that while on average over half of patients with other non-communicable diseases globally receive treatment for their condition, this figure is just one-quarter for individuals with mental disorders in advanced economies and only one in ten within developing countries. A conservative estimate of the global economic impact from this neglect of mental health exceeds $800 billion, a figure which does not begin to capture the horrors and pain of families choosing to chain family members to beds in the absence of cheap and effective medicines.


    The state of global mental health is extremely urgent; however, recent developments have provided hope that its condition can and will improve. This spring, the World Bank partnered with the World Health Organization at the "Out of the Shadows" conference to recognize mental health as a global development priority. In doing so, the WB and WHO took a historic step in terms of awareness of mental health issues. Now, advocates must call for concrete action while continuing to increase awareness, pushing leaders to serve their most vulnerable citizens through increased emphasis on and funding for mental health initiatives and care.


    Our efforts echo calls from activists across the world and seek to increase awareness of issues surrounding global mental health; advocate for increased funds for, greater access to, and better quality of mental health care; and decrease stigma surrounding mental illness. We hope that you will join us!

  • Our Work

    Advocacy Campaign

    In collaboration with international students at Harvard and students at universities across the world, we're collecting letters & narratives advocating for a strong commitment from finance ministers at the Spring Meeting of the World Bank and IMF.


    A critical component of building a broad-ranging advocacy campaign is raising awareness, which we plan to address by researching topics in global mental health and producing op-eds. Such articles (e.g., the New York Times piece to the right) are critical for changing public perception and raising support of global mental health.

    Campus Dialogue

    Global health starts at home. In addition to the above projects, we're working with on-campus groups to host a conference around global health with a substantial mental health component and to engage the community in dialogue on destigmatizing mental illness.

    There is No Health without Mental Health Advocacy Video

    We produced the video in collaboration with students from around the world, and released it at the World Bank/WHO Out of the Shadows conference. We are deeply grateful to those who shared their stories here. We hope that you will consider sharing this video and, most importantly, stand in solidarity with the countless people around the world whose lives are affected by mental illness.

    This video was produced by Michelle Ng.

  • Meet Our Team

    Under the guidance of Professors Arthur Kleinman and Anne Becker, the students forming this initiative have come together for a variety of reasons  including knowledge of the glaring gaps in policy or personal experience with mental illness and stigma.

    Matt Basilico

    Harvard/MIT MD-PhD Student

    Helen Jack

    HMS Student '18

    Brendan Eappen

    Harvard College '16

    Laura Kanji

    Harvard College '19

    Nick Seymour

    Harvard College '18

    NaYoung Yang

    Harvard College '18

    Aakriti Prasai

    Harvard College '18

    Mckenna Roberts

    Harvard College '19

    Marek Kowalski

    BU School of Medicine

    Dominick Zheng

    Harvard College '16

    Waverley He

    Harvard College '18

    Daniela Muhleisen

    Harvard College '19

    Sara Surani

    Harvard College '18

    Kevin C. Ma

    Harvard College '17

    Sreeja Kalapurakkel

    Harvard College '16

    Julia Versel

    Harvard College '16

  • Blog

    This reflection on the Out of the Shadows conference was written by Daniela Muhleisen, one of our members and a student liaison to the Harvard Global Health Institute. It was originally posted on the Harvard Global Health Institute's website. The World Bank and the World Health Organization...
    We were very fortunate to meet Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a professor at Columbia University and the Chair of Psychology Coalition of NGOs at the United Nations, at last month's Out of the Shadows conference. Dr. Judy shared two of her videos with us, both of which are powerful, informative, and give an...
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