Global mental health: history and the need for change

Dialogue 2 | Speakers and Facilitators

  • China Mills
    China Mills

    China Mills is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Director of the Masters in Public Health (MPH), at the School of Health Sciences, City, University of London. She is the author of the book ‘Decolonizing Global Mental Health: the Psychiatrization of the Majority World’ (Routledge). China’s research looks at how mental health is framed and contested as being global and at what happens when issues such as distress and suicide are framed as ‘global mental health’ issues. China works with a range of NGOs and organisations, including Bapu Trust and Healing Justice London. She is currently working on a number of projects, including: research co-produced with psychiatric survivors on Madness after the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and research co-produced with a team of folks with lived experience looking at deaths linked to UK welfare retrenchment and disabled people’s flight for justice.

  • Julian Eaton
    Julian Eaton

    Julian Eaton is the Mental Health Director for CBM Global Disability and Inclusion. He works with a team focused on improving access to care and support, and promoting the voice of people with psychosocial disabilities in low and middle income countries.He is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Global Mental Health at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he is currently leading a number of research projects looking at strengthening community-based mental health care, reform of public mental health systems in Africa, and promoting greater participation in research.

    He leads the Mental Health Innovations Network at LSHTM, and is Chair of the Bond International NGO Mental Health Group. Julian trained in London where he now works, after living and working in West Africa between 2003 and 2017.

  • Bhargavi Davar
    Bhargavi Davar

    Bhargavi Davar, Ph. D. is a childhood survivor of psychiatric institutions in India; and has survived acute mental health crisis and psycho-social disability of 2 decades or more, through the use of life affirming non medical healing approaches. She has worked extensively in the field of mental health research, nonmedical practice and advocacy since 1993. She has published several academic papers and books including Psychoanalysis as a Human Science; Mental health of Indian women; Gender from a mental health perspective; and more recently from Oxford University Press (2015), [Co-Ed] Gendering mental health: Knowledges, identities, institutions. She founded the Bapu Trust for Research Mind & Discourse, the first Indian user survivor organization to give an organisational framework to her advocacy work and served as its Director for 20 years. Her interests span social sciences, feminist and cultural studies, disability inclusive development and mental health. She is presently Director, Transforming Communities for Inclusion, TCI, a global organization of persons with psychosocial disabilities and intersectional identities, working with a vision for their full inclusion.

  • Alberto Vásquez Encalada
    Alberto Vásquez Encalada

    Alberto Vásquez Encalada is a Peruvian human rights lawyer and disability rights advocate. He graduated in Law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and holds an LL.M in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy from the National University of Ireland, Galway. He works as a consultant on disability rights and mental health law, and has served in that role at various United Nations entities. He worked as Research Coordinator at the Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities during Catalina Devandas’ mandate. In Peru, he has been actively involved in the drafting, advocacy and monitoring of laws and policies concerning disability and mental health. He is the president of the Sociedad y Discapacidad – SODIS and a member of the Redesfera Latinoamericana de la Diversidad.

  • Alexandre Cote
    Alexandre Cote

    UNICEF Disability and social protection policy specialist. Alexandre Cote has been working in the field of inclusive development for 25 years across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa. Actively involved in the negotiation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), he coordinated civil society’s inputs on social protection. With Handicap International (now Humanity and Inclusion), he supported and managed programs in the field of community development, support services, health and rehabilitation, local humanitarian relief and support to civil society in Eastern Africa, Southeast Europe, and the Middle East. As capacity building and program manager for the International Disability Alliance, he coordinated technical assistance to Organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) on CRPD related advocacy and provided institutional support to most marginalised constituencies, including networks of persons with psychosocial disabilities and the world federation of deafblind. In recent years, he has been focusing on CRPD compliant social protection and public budgeting as well as meaningful participation of DPOs

“Mental health is part of a larger human rights issue and my very strong position was and remains that the protection and promotion of universal human rights principles in general, and addressing inequities, violence, and discrimination, is crucial to the mental health of everyone.” Dainius Pūras

The second dialogue in this series explored the history, challenges, and possibilities of global mental health, focusing on the need for a paradigm shift in global health. It emphasized the importance of special procedures in advancing the right to physical and mental health within a complex system of global health governance. In this discussion, Tlaleng Mofokeng was introduced to key partnerships with civil society organizations developed under previous mandate holders.

Panelists included psychiatric survivors, people with lived experience, and people from the global south -- important, but often overlooked, voices. They examined the different roles and experiences of the global north and south, as well as the current dominance of the western biomedical model and the accompanying risk of colonialist practices. They discussed broader critiques of global health governance, international cooperation and assistance, and advocacy, including how the United Nations mandate can shape advocacy for a rights-based future.



Discussion Paper


UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health