Global mental helse


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Global mental health at the 12th European Congress On Tropical Medicine and International Health

This year’s ECTMIH congress acknowledged the reality of the slogan “No health without mental health” by having a separate track on global mental health. We do encourage coming congresses to take this further and integrate more critical views and perspectives from users and civil society.

ECTMIH2021 Track 7
Ragnhild Dybdahl


A successful online congress was organised by the University of Bergen on behalf of the Federation of European Societies for Tropical Medicine and International Health (FESTMIH) 

New this year was a full track, track 7, devoted to Global Mental Health. The Global Mental Health research group organised, chaired, moderated and gave presentations.  

The key note speakers included Pia Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR who discussed the implementation of Nurturing care: Promoting early childhood development in various Asian contexts. The plenary discussion was moderated by Ragnhild Dybdahl and Ingunn Marie S. Engebretsen. Engebretsen lead Track 6 on Nutrition, NCDs and oral health and followed up the Nurturing care concept with sessions on early child development, nutritional interventions and implementation strategies including schools.

Lars Lien moderated a session on depression and post-partum depression as well as the key note on substance abuse by Thomas Clausen while Henriette Risvoll, a prospective PhD candidate in GMHrg moderated the session on social inequalities. Henriette also presented a poster on Parenting interventions for early childhood. Hildegunn Seip presented on the arts in mental health promotion.

A substantial focus was given to migrant health, and the second key note speaker on track 7 was Pieter Ventevogel addressing mental health of refugees in low- and middle income countries, moderated by Lars Lien and Esperanza Dias. That session was held in collaboration with track 6 and track 1, focusing on migration, climate and health. Also, track 7 included work related mental health and gender based violence. 

The second day a key focus was given to WHO’s special initiative for mental health, strengthening mental health systems to improve access and support to sustainable change. Alison Schafer from WHO held a key note presentation. The key note presentation was followed up by sessions on possible intervention strategies and their transferability across contexts, with a particular focus on culture and refugees. Ragnhild Dybdahl gave a presentation on how guidelines for MHPSS in humanitarian contexts can be useful also in high income countries in a symposium organised by professor Wietse Tol. 

A large part of Track 7’s focus was on addiction – a key focus area of SDG 3.4 and 3.5. The Global Mental Health research group PhD candidates Vilde Skylstad and Joyce S. Nalugya presented their work on substance use among children, work related to the research project TREAT C-AUD: TREAT Child Alcohol Use Disorder (C-AUD) in Eastern Uganda: Screening, diagnostics, risk factors and handling of children drinking alcohol.

The final key note of track 7 was professor Vikram Patel’s inspiring lecture on the ways forward, reminding us that when it comes to mental health, all countries are developing. 

All abstracts can be found in the open access TMIH Journal Volume 26, Issues S1, 2021: Abstracts of the 12th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health, 28 September - 1 October 2021, Bergen, Norway  

The track 7 programme is still available and we are awaiting post-congress online material. 

This years ECTMIH congress acknowledged the slogan, but full reality of “No health without mental health.”   We do encourage coming congresses to take this further and integrate more critical views and perspectives from users and civil society.

GMHRG leaders: Ragnhild Dybdahl and Ingunn M.S. Engebretsen